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SUNDAY AFTERNOONS 



By the same Author. 

The RECREATIONS of a COUNTRY PARSON. First Series. 

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The RECREATIONS of a COUNTRY PARSON. Second 

Series. Crown Svo. 35. 6d. 
LEISURE HOURS in TOWN. 

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The COMMONPLACE PHILOSOPHER in TOWN and 

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The AUTUMN HOLIDAYS of a COUNTRY PARSON. 

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The CRITICAL ESSAYS of a COUNTRY PARSON. 

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LESSONS of MIDDLE AGE. 

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The GRAVER THOUGHTS of a COUNTRY PARSON. 

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The GRAVER THOUGHTS of a COUNTRY PARSON. 

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COUNSEL and COMFORT SPOKEN from a CITY PULPIT. 

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SUNDAY AFTERNOONS at the PARISH CHURCH of a 

SCOTTISH UNIVERSITY CITY. Crown 8vo. 3*. 6d. 
CHANGED ASPECTS of UNCHANGED TRUTHS. 

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n 

II i' : ■ 

SUNDAY AFTERNOONS AT 
THE PARISH CHURCH OF 
A UNIVERSITY CITY 

BY THE AUTHOR OF 

'THE RECREATIONS OF A COUNTRY PARSON ; 
NEW EDITION 



LONDON 
LONGMANS, GREEN, 
1869 



AND CO. 



LONDON : PRINTED BY 
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE 
AND PARLIAMENT STREET 



8y franiftr 
A«9 07 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

I. CONCERNING THE PARISH CHURCH . I 

II. THE PERPETUATION OF CHARACTER 

IN THE FUTURE LIFE . . 14 

III. REALIZATION. . . . • 34 

IV. RESTRAINING PRAYER ... 54 
V. TRUE WORSHIP . . . -73 

VI. CHRISTIAN LOVE . . . 9 1 

VII. THE BLESSING CURSED . . . IO9 

viii. the bible: i. 130 

ix. the bible: 11. . 150 

X. PARTAKING OF OTHER MEN'S SINS . 1 69 

XI. THE CATTLE PLAGUE . . l88 

XII. EXPERIENCE . ... 203 



VI 



Contents. 



PAGE 

XTII. TRUTH IN LOVE .... 222 

XIV. TRUTHS OVERLOOKED BECAUSE OF 

THEIR OBVIOUSNESS . . . 24O 

XV. DESPONDENCY .... 259 

XVI. THE FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH 279 

XVII. THE SIGHT OF THE SAVIOUR SANC- 
TIFYING ... . . . 298 



CONCERNING THE PARISH CHURCH, 



/^VN this self-same day, in this beautiful month of 
August, ninety-three years since, a great man 
entered our Parish Church. He was attended by 
a little man. The great man was Dr. Samuel 
Johnson : the little man's name need hardly be re- 
corded. Though a little man, he was the greatest 
of biographers ; and he has carefully preserved many 
of the great man's sayings for the advantage of in- 
numerable readers. But, unhappily, he has not 
recorded what Johnson thought of our church. 
Instead of doing so, Boswell has related that as for 
himself, he c was struck by the same kind of feelings 
with which the churches of Italy impressed him." 
What these feelings were, he has not stated. But 
it may be plausibly conjectured, that they were 
admiration for noble architecture and reverence for 
venerable age, combined with wonder at enormous 
size. For such are the feelings with which the 
cultivated mind would be impressed, on beholding 
our Parish Church this bright sunshiny day. 

B 



2 Concerning the Parish JOhurch. 



Doubtless, tastes and opinions are found to differ, 
as concerning our ancient church. Tastes have 
their day. A hundred years ago, a Bishop of the 
Anglican Church wrote a defence of the Cathedrals 
of England. At that time, these magnificent struc- 
tures were commonly esteemed as very 7 ugly. The 
aesthetic Prelate insisted that they were not so ugly, 
after ail. They had a certain rude and uncouth 
dignity,. he said : though they were of course not to 
be compared for neatness or elegance with 
such a building as Greenwich Hospital. 

As the Cathedrals of England were unappreciated 
then, so is our church by incompetent spectators 
now. In the writer's hearing, human beings have 
been known to say it is the queerest church they 
ever saw. Some have called it ugly. None, I am 
glad to record, have ever ventured to go the length 
of calling it neat or elegant. It is a Gothic church, 
with pointed windows and Norman arches : in the 
days before it was ravaged by the hands of tasteless 
restorers, while the arches which carried the cleres- 
tory and the central vault were round, those of the 
side aisles were pointed. Even yet, it can boast the 
dignity of gigantic size, lavish use of material, and long 
centuries of Christian worship of the most various 
kinds. And in these days in which people talk of the 
Broad Church, I should like to know (orthodox as 
is the doctrine set forth on that spot whereon verv 
contradictory doctrines have been preached) if any- 



Concerning the Parish Church. 3 



where in Christendom a broader church can be 
found than ours, whose internal breadth (to the 
occupant of the pulpit) is a hundred and sixty-two 
feet. Yes, when a preacher stands in our pulpit, 
he has eighty feet on one hand and eighty-two on 
the other, and seventy in front. The present foun- 
dations were laid in the year 11 12 : only the present 
foundations, let it be said with sorrow: for the church 
has been cut about and altered so that its builders 
would not know it. The tower and spire remain 
untouched : they are later than the foundations of 
the church ; yet they have stood here for four hun- 
dred and fifty years. It was along Norman church, 
with Choir, Nave, and Transepts : the Choir and 
Nave having aisles. The north transept is gone : 
and the whole now forms a cruciform church, want- 
ing one of the short limbs of the cross. Many 
cardinals, many archbishops and bishops, many dig- 
nitaries of the ancient faith, have shared in its 
stately worship : a good many of them now sleep 
under its shade. These would not know the church 
now ; and would look with wonder at its worship. 
The last archbishops indeed, who ruled here, would 
feel comparatively at home. The old Roman dig- 
nities were sadly shorn, in the days when Protestant 
Episcopacy was the established religion of this 
country. Our magnificent cathedral was in ruins, 
and this church was ranked as pro-cathedral. As 

B 2 



4 Concerning the Parish Church. 



for the service, Sarum use and Anglican liturgy 
were alike unknown : the service was just what it 
is to-day under a National Church which Dr. 
Johnson described as c sunk into Presbyterianism.' 
A liturgical worship is in many minds so associated 
with an episcopal hierarchy, that it sounds startling 
in many ears to be told that the worship of the 
Scotch church remained the same under episcopal 
and presbyterian rule, save in exceptional spots here 
and there. When the chief minister of our church 
was His Grace the Lord Primate, its worship was 
even what you would find it on any Sunday of the 
present time. 

A voice, often heard in our church, was that of 
John Knox, the greatest and most energetic of 
Scotch Reformers. It is said, on doubtful authority, 
that from listening to a sermon he preached in it, 
a multitude hastened over the short space between, 
and wrecked the cathedral. Probably what Knox 
wished was that the grand building should be cleared 
of images and other things of specially Roman cha- 
racter : but when you set in motion a furious mob, 
che rascal multitude,' as Knox himself called it, 
it is apt to go a great deal farther than was designed. 
And many folk, roughly estimating causes, have 
spoken of Knox as though he had been the great 
instrument in the destruction of the rare noble 
churches of Scotland. In the sight of the many 
ruins of religious magnificence which you might see 



Concerning the Parish Church. 5 



within a few hundred yards round our churchy Dr. 
Johnson was moved with strong indignation. On 
some mention being made of the place where Knox 
is buried, he burst out, * I hope in the highway ! I 
have been looking at his reformations/ On these 
reformations you may look daily in this ancient place, 
and mourn over them. Yet even though you should 
hold Knox answerable for all the mischief done by 
mobs that did far more than he desired, he would 
not be guilty of the present state of cur religious 
buildings. The cathedral was used as a quarry for 
two hundred years. If you wanted stones to build 
a wall, or a house, or even a pier to protect the little 
harbour, wherefore go farther than to the desolated 
sanctuary ? Within the cathedral walls Johnson 
stood uncovered. With all the will to shew due reve- 
rence to the sacred spot, those who visit it often- 
times, and occasionally in wintry weather, would 
catch terrible colds if they followed that decorous 
example. There he likewise observed, with no 
small force, that differing from a man in doctrine 
was no reason why you should pull down his house 
about his ears. True : but if the owner of the 
house had been accustomed to burn those who dif- 
fered from him in opinion, not unfairly might he 
have a moderate share of his own measure meted 
out to him. A lofty turret, which had stood at the 
corner of a gable, being pointed out as in danger of 
falling, the venerated authority proceeded : c Don't 



6 Concerning the Parish Church. 



take it down : It might fall on some of the posterity 
of John Knox, and no great matter/ 

But let us turn from the ruins to the unfallen 
parish church. Eighty years since, the pillars divi- 
ding the aisles were very massive and low, support- 
ing heavy Norman arches. The side aisles were 
vaulted in stone : and the earth having crept up 
about them through ages, they were so low that the 
schoolboys used to climb up and run along their 
roof. Above, there was a clerestory of unusual 
height, bearing up a steep-pitched open roof of oak. 
Well-meaning hands, guided by execrable taste, 
were laid upon the church : its offence being that 
the pillars were so many and so massive, and the 
recesses so dark. Each second pillar was taken 
away : the remaining pillars were greatly increased in 
height ; and the arches between were made gigantic, 
suggesting a bridge rather than a church. The 
clerestory disappeared : the side aisles being carried 
up to nearly the height of the centre vault. Great 
galleries were devised by tasteless skill : the result 
being, that our church can hold with facility a con- 
gregation of two thousand five hundred souls \ and 
with a little crowding, three thousand. The pulpit, 
placed with some ingenuity, enables the preacher to 
look at about two-thirds of the congregation : the 
remainder listen to his instructions under the great 
disadvantage of looking full upon his back. Con- 
siderable in force the voice must be, which can 



Concerning the Parish Church. J 



tolerably fill the vast expanse. And a considerable 
range of pews will be shewn to the attentive visitor, 
bearing the title of The Believers 9 Seats : so called, 
because such as occupy them, not being able to see 
or hear anything, must assume that everything said 
and done is right, without adequate proof that the 
fact is so. All the space surrounding the church 
was in ancient days a burying-place. The burying- 
place has disappeared, and houses have encroached 
on its site. If you dig down a little, you will find 
many bones. And though the doors and windows of 
the church stand always open, yet it is pervaded by 
the unmistakable odour of age. 

Our church fronts an ancient street, which runs 
east and west : the chief street of the ancient city. 
At its eastern end you may discern the ruins of our 
once magnificent cathedral. Quaint and venerable 
is the aspect of that street, which to some minds is 
suggestive of the High Street in Oxford. Between 
the church and the street is a little expanse of green 
grass, crowded with trees of moderate growth : you 
walk into church under the shade of weeping elms. 
Some one, in former days, must have had a special 
love for such trees, for you find them in many nooks 
throughout the city. Gray ruins, luxuriant ivy, and 
weeping elms, here abound. Injurious persons, 
regardless of truth, told Dr. Johnson that there was 
just one tree in all the city, and another about ten 
miles off. It can hardly have been so then > for 



\ 



8 Concerning the Parish Church, 



now in many spots you may discover well-grown 
trees, one beautiful thorn in the court of one of the 
Colleges planted by poor Queen Mary. Let the 
writer record, with a justifiable pride, that even 
Johnson might this day count thirty-three between 
the parish church and the lofty iron railing which 
parts it from the street. And though the region 
immediately round the city be b?re of trees, a little 
beyond the country rises into beautiful woodlands, 
fair as though they never felt the salt spray. 

The intelligent visitor, entering our church on a 
weekday, will be shown its curiosities. Two cutty- 
stools, whose use has departed : a beautiful specimen 
of the old oak stall-work, two seats in all : an iron 
head-piece, helmet-like, with a great projection de- 
vised to rest upon the tongue which had evinced a 
disposition to speak evil of ecclesiastical dignities : 
some massive silver vessels, bearing the words In 
usum e celestes hujus donavit "Jacobus ejusdem Archi- 
episcopus : these are the special sights. And against 
the east wall of the remaining transept, is erected 
a great monument, of black and white marble, 
preserving the record of a certain archbishop, bar- 
barously murdered. Fifty feet in height is the 
monument : under it sleeps the old Prelate's mortal 
part. Near its top, is a relief of the archbishop 
propping up a church, sorely rent and seemingly 
about to fall : thus is signified, from a friendly point 
of view, the service he sought to render to a dis 5 - 



Concerning the Parish Church. 9 



tracted country. Lower down, the archbishop has 
knelt in marble for nearly two hundred years. He 
is in his robes, in the attitude of prayer : an angel is 
placing on his head the golden crown of the martyr, 
not specially deserved by him : for a martyr, surely, 
is one who dies for the faith of Christ, not one who 
dies for either Presbytery or Episcopacy. Pro 
mitra coronam was*|he motto his children afterwards 
bore. Underneath, is a curious representation in 
relief of the circumstances of his murder. First, 
the clumsy coach and six is shown at full gallop, 
pursued by a band of horsemen : Next, a few 
minutes have passed : the archbishop, in his robes, 
has been forced to his knees : he is surrounded by 
Christian men of grim and unchristian aspect, one of 
whom is firing a pistol into his body, and another 
piercing him with a sword. Hard by, his poor 
daughter entreats mercy from those who had not 
received much and would not give any. Yet these 
ferocious fanatics were unquestionably honest men : 
and for that only the more bloody and dangerous. 
Let us turn away from this sad reminder of a sad 
time : and proceed to the North-west angle of the 
church. Here let us climb a turret stair, narrow, 
steep, dark : till we emerge on the bartizan of the 
spire, and look down from this quiet and airy height 
on the city below. Three great bells hang near us, 
which on Sundays summon the congregation to 
worship : if the hour strikes while we are here 3 the 



I o Concerning the Parish Church. 



sound is startling. What a grand view ! Not 
Scotch, but French, is the aspect of the city from 
this point of view. Red-tiled roofs, interspersed 
with many gardens : noble ruins : inland, an undu- 
lating country, with the Grampians for a horizon : 
on two sides, the blue sea. Against it, the desolated 
cathedral : and hard by, a lofty square tower with- 
out architectural feature, and a fragment of an older 
metropolitan church. You are requested to believe 
that that tower was built fifteen hundred years since, 
by the good monk who brought to this sacred spot 
the bones of its patron saint, the first called of the 
Apostles. The days were, on which, from this 
height, you would have seen the smoke rising from 
piles of wood which consumed more than two or 
three true and single-hearted martyrs. There are 
the ruins of the great castle where the Cardinal 
dwelt, the clever unprincipled scoundrel who sent 
one brave man to the flames, and beheld his death 
seated on comfortable cushions on the top of that 
ruined tower. There is satisfaction in reflecting, 
that shortly afterwards he met a well-merited violent 
death, and was hung by one leg out of a window of 
his castle, to assure all concerned that there was 
fairly an end of him. Then, the castle being be- 
sieged, there were no means of burying him : so he 
was salted like a pig and kept for a year in a 
dungeon made in the rock, wherein he had been 
accustomed to shut up better men. That dungeon 



Concerning the Parish Church. 1 1 



was, and is, shaped like a bottle. You lowered 
the prisoner down the narrow neck, and the dungeon 
below widened out into a chamber of considerable 
size. Solid rock all round : no window : the only- 
door by the neck, twenty-four feet above. O the 
happy and good old times ! 

Three times each Sunday the doors of our great 
church are opened to admit the congregation to 
worship. Of the three services the writer conducts 
one : alternately the morning and afternoon. Let 
it be confessed, he is always somewhat awe-stricken 
by his church, though now he should feel at home 
in it. Its gigantic size, fully discerned from hardly 
any point except the pulpit, never fails to impress. 
And preaching here, you are touched less by the 
academic character and associations of the church, 
than by the vast mass of human beings gathered in it. 
For though the Professors and students of a certain 
famous theological College, the glory of our Uni- 
versity, attend its worship, the academic element is 
lost in the great general congregation. You will 
hardly find a greater variety of people in any church 
you are likely to see. For this is the church of a 
large country parish, as well as of the city : and 
here the rich and poor, in literal truth, meet together; 
the learned and unlearned, the rustic and the urbane. 
Then the incumbent of this church looks back on a 
line of venerable predecessors, who wielded great 



\% Concerning the Parish Church. 



ecclesiastical authority : for though our National 
Church be presbyterian, we have sometimes had our 
virtual bishops, with more than episcopal sway. 
Among their number may the writer never be ! 
Yet each Sunday, pacing the long passage that leads 
to the lofty pulpit, who can forget what dignified 
steps have been there before ? Further back : and 
His Grace the Archbishop walks into his pro- 
cathedral, sorely abridged of the ancient state. And 
then you think of days more remote, when this 
space echoed to storms of organ music, and the 
voices of many choristers rendered a worship ac- 
cording to Sarum use. Greatly changed : greatly 
changed ! 

How different all this from my little country 
church of departed years ! Great is the change 
even from the dear old charge in a great city, now 
left behind. Yet the matter and manner of the 
Message will be found not to be materially altered. 
The old story must always be told, after all ; and 
the writer is likely always to tell it much in the old 
way. Certain volumes, containing words spoken by 
him from his pulpit elsewhere, have found a very- 
great number of readers ; some of whom have 
cheered him by saying that these words have done 
them good. May it be so with the present volume! 

What numbers of clergymen have called that 
church their own ! You feel the briefness of your 



Concerning the Parish Church. 13 



life, placed in charge for a little space of what has 
seen such ages. The old church cannot be expected 
to care much for any of us now : it has made too 
many friends, and then lost them. I always feel as 
if it kept one at arm's length. You would feel, here, 
my friend, not that the church belongs to you, but 
that you belong to the church. I recall a fact in 
past history. By the wharf, at a great town not far 
from Highland hills and rocks, there lay a Highland 
vessel which had brought black cattle. Upon its 
little deck, a man was walking up and down, not 
without dignity. A woman approached the water- 
side, and loudly exclaimed, c Are ye the man that 
belongs to the boat ? ' The man continued his 
walk, taking no notice of the question. The ques- 
tion was repeated, in shrill and impatient tones. No 
reply : the Highlander silently paced to and fro. At 
length, on a third repetition of the enquiry, he ceased 
his walk ; and turning to the woman, said with in- 
dignation, c No, I'm the man the boat belongs to! 5 
Let me reverse the theory of that dignified High- 
lander. And though the writer, for his turn in this 
life, is now c the man the church belongs to,' yet 
let the case be more modestly put : and let him 
rather say that he meanwhile belongs to the church 
of fifteen generations. 



14 



II. 

THE PERPETUATION OF CHARACTER 
IN THE FUTURE LIFE. 

1 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still : and he which is filthy, let 
him be filthy still : and he that is righteous, let him be righteous 
still : and he that is holy, let him be holy still.' — Rev. xxii. II. 

HOW should we like it, my friends, if God's 
voice were at this moment to say to each of 
us here, Just what you are now, remain for ever ? 
Just what you have grown into, in soul and spirit, 
in habits, likings, dispositions, opinions, feelings, 
remain through eternity ? 

That is the force of this text. And this text 
gives us the principle on which God's judgment of 
us His creatures shall go, on the great Judgment- 
day. There is not a more solemn truth, nor one of 
greater practical moment for each of us to remem- 
ber. We are ready to think, perhaps, that it would 
be pleasant if we could all get to heaven at last ; 
and that God may, after all, kindly let His creatures, 
however sinful their lives in this world, find an en- 
trance there. But this text tells us that that cannot 
be : that the state of each of us through eternity 



Perpetuation of Character. 



15 



will be just a continuation and development of what 
we are now ; and that if we do not grow fit for 
heaven here, we never shall at all. We are grow- 
ing, now, into what we shall be for ever. We are 
forming into the very individual beings that we shall 
be when we rise from our graves at the Resurrec- 
tion ; that we shall be when we stand before 
Christ's judgment-seat ; that we shall be when we 
enter upon our everlasting state. Do not fancy 
that at death some sudden transformation is to pass 
on our whole moral and spiritual nature and charac- 
ter, so that though we are not Christian people and 
not fit for heaven up to our last moment in this 
world, we yet may open our eyes upon eternity and 
find ourselves meet for the inheritance of the saints 
in light. Do not fancy that : to cherish such a 
delusive belief may be our ruin ! If we are allow- 
ing bad thoughts and affections and desires to get a 
place in our hearts now, they will keep that place 
for ever. If we are growing into a character of 
worldliness, or pride and self-sufficiency, or impurity, 
or hard selfishness, or ungodliness, or suspicion, or 
hatred and uncharitableness, then, brethren, unless 
there come some irresistible force of God's grace 
upon which we have no right to count, that charac- 
ter will be perpetuated. We shall be just the same 
men and women beyond the grave, that we are 
while yet spared here. If we have not found Christ 
here, and been sanctified by the Holy Spirit here, 



1 6 The Perpetuation of Character 

we shall not attain these things there. For you see 
how run the awful words that gather into a short 
verse the sum of the final judgment of our kind : 
you have them in the text. They speak of a time 
when our trial here and our discipline here are all 
over; when there can be no more change ; when 
all that remains is just to live on for ever, and be the 
souls we have grown to be. c He that is unjust, 
let him be unjust still : and he which is filthy, let 
him be filthy still : and he that is righteous, let 
him be righteous still : and he that is holy, let him 
be holy still ! ' 

It would do us a great good : it would make us 
feel the awful reality and responsibility of our short 
lives here : it would sweep away vain hopes that 
can tend only to delusion and destruction, if we 
could just feel that* That not even God's mighty 
power can make us happy in heaven if we do not 
grow fit for heaven ; and that heaven and hell con- 
sist essentially in the perpetuation and completion of 
the moral and spiritual character and disposition we 
attain on earth. We must get, here, the holy 
character which will fit us for that holy place ; or 
we never shall enter it at all. Yea, it is the cha- 
racter impressed on the soul, that makes its heaven 
or its hell. For though these be real, substantial 
places, doubtless — as real and substantial as this 
world in which we are living now — yet it is this 
moral and spiritual character of those appointed to 



in the Future Life. 1 7 



each, that makes the crown and consummation of 
their bliss or woe. A quite worldly and godless 
soul, not united to Christ and washed in His blood, 
not renewed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, would 
be just as far from being happy in heaven, as any- 
where else. Indeed, the bitter sense of being quite 
out of keeping and sympathy with the place, the 
inhabitants, and the employments, — the bitter sense 
of being where it had no business to be, — would 
make such a soul perhaps more miserable there than 
anywhere else. Oh brethren, how awful the charge 
of this life, in which we must, by God's grace, grow 
meet for heaven, — or else remain meet for woe ! 
May God's Blessed Spirit enable us, now, to lay to 
heart the truth this text teaches, and to live, hour 
by hour, in its solemn remembrance ! 

You see, looking at the text, the two truths set 
out in it. The utmost sentence on the wicked is 
merely this : that the unjust should remain unjust 
still ; and the filthy, the morally defiled, should re- 
main filthy still. And then, you have the contrast. 
The glory and happiness of saved souls shall consist 
in this : that the righteous (contrasted with the 
unjust) shall continue righteous ; and the holy (con- 
trasted with the filthy) shall continue holy still. 
Perdition, with all its unutterable woe, lies mainly 
in the perpetuation of wickedness. And heaven 
with all its glory and bliss, consists mainly in the 
perpetuation of righteousness and purity of soul. 

c 



1 8 The Perpetuation of Character 



Now it is likely enough that there may be souls 
which would shudder at the sentence, c Depart from 
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the 
devil and his angels,' who would not mind so much 
about this sentence to continue in sin — to be always 
the unjust and impure beings they had become. 
For it is of the nature of indulged sin, to blunt 
the moral perceptions and you will find many 
people who can see quite plainly that misery is a 
bad thing, who are yet very far from seeing that sin 
is a far worse thing. Yes, there are souls on which 
the awful sentence on the wicked contained in this 
text, would fall very lightly : souls whose feeling 
would be, c Is that all ? We can stand that : we 
have been unjust and impure for many a year, and 
have not felt it such a dreadful burden after all.' 
And it is quite true, that we may all have known 
of men who were untruthful in their words and 
dealings — the unjust of the text — and who were im- 
pure in their thoughts and lives — the filthy of the 
text — who yet did not seem to be very miserable ; 
and who would not be so much afraid of hell, if 
hell just meant that they were to live on as they 
used to do on earth. But ah, brethren, though the 
sentence be only to be themselves for ever, the un- 
just unjust still, and the filthy filthy still, there will 
be an awful change there ! Here, a hundred things 
come in to prevent wickedness running to its full 
length 3 a hundred checks. The decencies of so- 



in the Future Life. 



19 



ciety do much. The man who in God's sight is 
nothing better than filthy, must keep his evil deeds 
under such a decorous, though perhaps quite trans- 
parent veil, as that he may be admitted to the com- 
pany of pure and pious men and women. Then, at 
a different point of the moral scale, the fear of the law 
and its punishments comes in to repress wickedness, 
and hold it in check. With all the will to be bad 
there are those who dare not : the penalty would 
follow so certainly and so soon. And perhaps 
conscience, and early training, and the influence of 
Christian friends, and of old associations, — and as- 
suredly the remaining checks of God's Holy Spirit, 
seldom in this world quite driven away from the 
most hardened heart, — all tend to hold the wicked- 
ness of the godless soul in some degree of restraint, 
and to hinder its breaking forth into its natural 
manifestations, and running its full length. But 
think of a world in which all restraints are gone; 
in which all the wicked of all ages and countries 
are gathered together, with every evil passion run- 
ning riot ; where the most atrocious cruelty, and 
the vilest perfidy, shall have no check ; and say if the 
more material tortures of which Scripture speaks, — 
the worm that never dies, and the fire that is never 
quenched, — would be needed, to make a scene of 
such unutterable woe and wretchedness, as shall 
transcend all human conception of that abode of 
utter and final perdition ! 

c 2 



20 The Perpetuation of Character 



And there is more than this. When the text 
tells us that in the other world, those who are 
wicked now shall be wicked still, this further truth 
is suggested, that the wicked shall carry with them 
beyond the grave, all the evil desires and affections 
which habit and indulgence in this life had raised 
into the most oppressive of tyrants. Into a world 
where their indulgence is for ever impossible, the 
wicked soul shall carry all its depraved appetites 
and desires. All the evil habits formed here shall 
still cleave to the soul, where they can be sources 
of nothing but wretchedness. The licentious man, 
and the drunkard, the envious man, the man ever 
seeking petty pre-eminence, and bitter if it be denied 
him — entering that abode of woe, will go where 
their dispositions will only make them miserable. 
An eternal burning thirst, with not a drop of water 
to drink, will come to many a wicked man through 
the perpetuation in another life of his moral cha- 
racter and habits. Here, the unjust and the filthy 
could find some low gratification in the carrying out 
the tendencies of their bad hearts : there, that can 
never be. 

So you see how awful a doom it is that is ex- 
pressed in these words, which at the first glance the 
sinner might think were not so dreadful \ that just 
tell him to go on being himself for ever. Without 
thinking at all of the material circumstances of woe 
in the lot of such as wilfully put away Christ's 



in the Future Life. 



21 



salvation, see how awful a place that will be, where 
c he that is unjust shall be unjust still, and he which 
is filthy shall be filthy still/ In its own wicked nature 
the lost soul shall carry such appliances of misery 
and woe, as make little of the outer darkness, the 
undying worm, the quenchless fires. These may 
all be there : but the consummation of wretchedness 
will be in hearts all thirsting for what they never will 
get ; and in a scene of such utter lawlessness as 
never was on earth in the most awful revolution, 
where the worst of men were still men ! It is 
the moral ruin, not the physical pain, that makes 
perdition. 

My friends, I would willingly turn away from 
these thoughts, to the happy and cheering prospects 
set forth in the second portion of the text. And 
yet, however little liking any of us may have to 
dwell on the terrors of judgment, it would be utterly 
unjustifiable to shut our eyes upon the meaning of 
such words as those we have thought of. There is 
great severity in God's character, as well as incom- 
prehensible love : God sternly carries out His laws, 
whether these be physical, moral, or spiritual. And 
indeed it is a sad instance of the way in which our 
sinful hearts and our spiritual enemies deceive us, 
that while we all understand perfectly that God will 
carry out His physical laws, and while we never 
expect anything else, we yet find it difficult quite 
to exclude from our hearts the lurking belief, that 



22 The Perpetuation of Character 



perhaps after all, God may fail to carry out His 
spiritual laws, — may fall from what He has declared 
He will do, as regards them. You tell a man that 
if he eat a certain quantity of arsenic, it will cause 
his death by terrible tortures. Well, that man never 
dreams of replying, — Oh, God is too kind and good 
to let His creature suffer so dreadfully; and therefore 
I shall take the poison, because I like it ; and I 
shall trust that He will keep it from doing me any 
harm. No man talks in that foolish and reckless 
way, as regards God's material laws. And yet, 
though God has told us, plainly, and a hundred times 
over, what He has appointed to be the consequence 
of unrepented and unatoned sin, — though that law 
is just as fixed as the other; and though the breaking 
of that law would dishonour God before the universe, 
while the breaking of the other law would not, — yet 
you will find men who keep up the unexpressed belief, 
that the soul that sins shall not surely die, — that the 
soul that poisons itself will get off unhurt after all. 
Oh brethren, what does the text, — what do these 
solemn and awful thoughts it suggests to us, say to 
that belief? And you know, too, that if there be 
a case in which law should run its course unstaid, 
it is this case of death following sin. The man who 
takes the material poison, however speedily he may 
seek an antidote, is too late ; there is no cure for 
that terrible bane. But though the poison of the 
soul be the worst poison of all, and, unchecked^ the 



in the Future Life. 



*3 



most hopelessly fatal, there is a balm effectual to 
heal, here : and no sinner need perish, unless he 
wilfully reject this inestimable remedy. 'The blood 
of Christ cleanseth from all sin : ' and sinful as we 
are, poisoned by that in every fibre of our spiritual 
nature, if we will but accept God's offered mercy 
through Christ,— if we will but heartily open the 
door to Him who has knocked there so long, — the 
bane will be neutralized, and we shall live eternally. 
1 For the wages of sin is death : but the gift of God 
is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord ! ' 

But passing away from this, let us think how, as 
perdition is described as consisting in the perpetuation 
of character, so it is too with glory. The supreme 
happiness of heaven, represented in Holy Scripture 
under various images, is here gathered up into this 
essential thing : c He that is righteous, let him be 
righteous still : and he that is holy, let him be holy 
still.' 

Now, we are so accustomed, thinking of heaven, 
to recall the sublime imagery of the closing chapters 
of the Revelation, that just at first there is something 
disappointing in the thought that, glorious and mag- 
nificent place as heaven is, the vital happiness of it 
arises rather from the character of its inhabitants, 
than from anything about the material place itself. 
And yet, it is the plain teaching of the Bible, that 
spiritual considerations, and not material beauty, make 



24 The Perpetuation of Character 



the happiness of heaven. St, Paul, you remember^ 
sums up all its happiness in something quite con- 
sistent with St. John's teaching in the text. He 
makes it lie in the beatific presence of our Saviour : 
c And so/ he says, c we shall be ever with the Lord.' 
And now remember, that only souls made righteous 
and holy in the sense of the text, can so love the 
Saviour that His presence would make them perfectly 
happy ; and that all who are made so righteous and 
holy, must so love the Saviour, and thus find perfect 
happiness in His presence. Thus the perpetuation 
and completion of a character of righteousness and 
holiness, implying supreme love to Him who died 
for us, and gave us the Spirit who only makes 
righteous and holy, is what makes the unutterable 
happiness of the Christian heaven. 

We have said that heaven would be no place of 
happiness except to souls redeemed and renewed 
and sanctified. And in the great truth taught by our 
text, you see the essential difference between the 
Christian heaven, and the paradises promised by false 
prophets and false religions. They have always been 
described as places that would make any one happy, 
who could only find a home in them. You see in 
all accounts of them, that first belief of man, — that 
belief of a primitive age and an untutored race, — 
that happiness is a matter of one's outward lot. 
They are places which profess to make anybody 
happy who enters them, quite apart from any con- 



in the Future Life. 



25 



sideration of what he himself was. But all we are 
told of the heaven we hope for, goes upon a far 
deeper view. It goes upon this : that happiness is 
something within the breast; that it is the holy and 
happy soul within, rather than the beautiful scenes 
without, that shall make man happy. We some- 
times forget this. It is our common way to picture 
heaven to ourselves as an extraordinarily beautiful 
place. A great many people think of heaven just 
as an incomparably finer and more beautiful world 
than this, but the same kind of thing. They think 
that all that is most beauteous here, is imaged there 
in happier beauty : they think of brighter skies, and 
calmer seas, — of c an ampler ether, a diviner air, 5 — of 
streams that flow in living light, — of walls of gems, 
and gates of pearl, and light that never fades, and 
songs that never cease \ — they cherish a thought, — 
do not some of you here cherish a thought ? — that 
this outward beauty and glory is the thing thzt makes 
heaven ; — that the first thought of the blest soul 
entering there will be, what a magnificent and 
beautiful place its eternal home is ; — that heaven is 
just, in the literalness of the phrase, c another and a 
better world' Brethren, you mistake it, if you 
think that ! It is not mere external loveliness that 
will make the heaven of our rest and our hope. 
Beautiful as heaven may be and must be, it would 
be a poor and empty thing to make the soul's 
eternal rest, if you had said your best of it when you 



2 6 The Perpetuation of Character 



had told us of its outward beauty. It is not walls 
of gems and gates of pearl that will make the soul 
happy ! It must be something that eye hath not 
seen and ear hath not heard that shall do that ! It 
is the righteous and holy heart, in the Saviour's 
presence. It is, that in the Golden City sin is done 
with for ever ; and the soul made perfect in holiness, 
blest with a spiritual bliss that will make it feel it 
never knew happiness before. And that is what 
makes heaven. All the glories and beauties of the 
Revelation are mere slight incidental trifles when 
compared with that ! There may be pearly 
streams and silver sand, — we do not know : there 
maybe diamond dews glittering on fadeless flowers : 
there may be golden pavements and glassy seas : 
there may be palms of triumph, and thrones of 
gold, and palaces not built with hands, that tower 
into that sky of cloudless blue : it may be that every 
description the Bible gives us of the materialism of 
heaven shall be fulfilled to the letter : but oh, the 
grand thing will be the moral atmosphere of purity 
and holiness, pervaded by the Redeemer's presence : 
the grand thing will be that all evil, — everything 
that defileth, — shall be done with for evermore : not 
merely the guilt of sin no longer resting upon us, but 
the power of sin wholly dead; evil having nothing 
more in us, or around us, or over us, or against us, 
than when man was fresh from his Creator's hand. 
It is an easy common-place, that virtue is its own 



in the Future Life. 



2 7 



reward : it is not true here j but it is true there ! 
To be, always, what the Holy Ghost has made 
them, holy and righteous, will be the consummate 
bliss of the glorified saints above : and God can 
say to His creatures no better, than c He that is 
righteous, let him be righteous still : and he that is 
holy, let him be holy still ! ' 

Now, is it needful that I should tell any one here 
present, that we have been thinking of the Fitness 
for heaven, not of the Title to heaven ? We get 
the right to dwell for ever in that holy and happy place, 
only through being pardoned and justified through 
faith in our Blessed Saviour's atoning sacrifice. We 
get the Fitness for heaven, only through being sancti- 
fied by the Holy Spirit. But these two things always 
go together. If we are justified, then we must be 
m some humble degree sanctified. And if we are 
sanctified ; — if some measure of that righteousness 
and holiness of which the text speaks have by God's 
grace been brought into our hearts and lives, — then 
this is a certain proof that we are justified and 
pardoned. Always the two together : Title and 
Meetness. If justified, sanctified. If sanctified, 
justified. Justification, indeed, is God's own work ; 
and if done at all, it is done perfectly. But there is 
something for us to do, as well as much for the 
Holy Ghost to do, in the work of Sanctification : 
and though really begun, that work will always be 
alloyed with human imperfection and unworthiness : 



2,8 The Perpetuation of Character 



there may be very humble degrees of holiness in the 
soul which yet God accepts as holy for the Re- 
deemer's sake. But there was no need that St. 
John, in the text, should have formally told us that 
the righteous and holy would be admitted to heaven 
only through Christ's great atonement, and because 
justified by faith in Him. For they would not have 
been righteous and holy, unless first washed in 
Christ's blood, and pardoned for His sake. All that 
is implied in the very words the Apostle employs. 
Then you remember how wisely it is said, in words 
familiar to us all since our childhood, c The souls of 
believers are at their death made perfect in holiness.' 
They were, already, by God's grace and His Spirit's 
operation, on the safe side of the line that parts the 
righteous from the unjust, the holy from the foul : 
all they wanted was the perfection of that which in 
a true measure they had already ; and this they 
received at death. Not an essential change ; only 
a development of something already possessed ; was 
what they needed. Only c he that is righteous, let 
him be righteous still : and he that is holy, let him 
be holy still ! ' 

My friends, what a momentous thing is our 
little life in this world, with all its little engagements, 
little temptations, little worries and disappointments 1 
How far wrong they are who think it a common- 
place thing, of small account, when our eternity 
hangs upon it ! And how earnestly we should pray 



in the Future Life. 



29 



for the continual presence, in our homes and hearts, 
of the Holy Spirit ! There is a great work, yet, 
for Him to do on our souls. We are not, as yet, 
what we hope to be : what we would need to be 5 
before we die ! To form a holy character, by His 
aid, is our great work. And it is just the little doings 
of daily life that are forming our character into 
what it will be for ever ! Every little thing is help- 
ing to give you the set in which you will always stay. 
Millions of words, thoughts, and deeds, are giving 
your whole nature a bent towards holiness and happi- 
ness, or towards sin and woe — as millions of little 
breaths and gusts of wind give the tree its lean to east 
or west. Now, are you fighting against evil thoughts 
and desires and doings, that you may not take your 
tone from these ? Are you resisting them and ex- 
cluding them by God's grace, as knowing that if 
you let them enter your heart and colour your life, 
they will shut you out of heaven and shut you up to 
woe : that if they form your character, then there 
will be only perdition for you in the awful sentence, 
i He that is unjust, let him be unjust still : and he 
which is filthy, let him be filthy still ! ' Or are you 
rather, by His gracious help without Whom we can 
be only sinful and wretched, so growing daily in 
grace, — in faith, and hope, and charity, — gaining 
daily such a character and nature, such leanings, 
tastes, likings, — such purity, such unworldliness, 
such holiness of heart and life, — that only in heaven 



30 The Perpetuation of Character 



you shall find your proper element, your congenial 
companions, your soul's native air! Then, my 
friends, it that be so, — and God grant it be so with 
all, — how joyfully will you regard the solemn 
assurance, that the Judgment-day will but fix men 
for ever into what that day shall find them ; with its 
solemn yet glorious declaration, that as for the long 
Eternity that spreads away before us, 6 He that is 
righteous, shall be righteous still : and he that is 
holy, shall be holy still ! ' 

I thought that a text like this, which bids each 
of us look to our whole life, and consider to what 
it is all tending, was a suitable one for this day ; 
and that here we have a fit subject for preach- 
ing and hearing, when a minister is entering on a 
new and great sphere of duty. For the end of the 
devotions and instructions of this house of prayer, 
and the bent of all a minister's pastoral work, are 
just the forming of our souls into that character in 
which they may face the Judgment-day ; and not 
be ashamed before our Lord at His coming. Away 
in the unseen world — away in that life so little 
realised — we shall be the very people we grow to 
be by our days of common life in this ancient city, 
and by the hours we spend here upon a spot where 
Christian people, in divers ways indeed, have wor- 
shipped God for eight hundred years. They are 
gone, these generations of departed worshippers : 



in the Future Life. 



and ours is now the turn to serve God in this place : 
now is the testing period of our never-ending life, 
that shall give the colour to it all. I have come to 
you 5 not without many doubts and fears, to try, by 
God's grace, in some measure to fill the place of 
that most amiable and able man, that eloquent 
preacher, so suddenly called away : feeling, most 
deeply, how weighty is the responsibility of the 
minister of this great congregation \ of this city with 
its university and its schools, where such a multi- 
tude of young minds and hearts are training for 
time and eternity. I look back on a line of prede- 
cessors who have left their mark on the Church 
of Scotland, and upon theological science in this 
country : and while humbled in that retrospect, yea 
crushed down if I trusted in my own strength, I yet 
feel much encouraged in that I have been judged in 
any degree worthy to come after them. There 
could not be, to me, a more congenial charge, than 
that of this ancient and famous city, with its aca- 
demic air, and its old associations : with its chairs 
filled by men who are the worthy followers of the 
learned and illustrious of past centuries, and who, 
each in his field, are the leaders of modern thought. 
Most thankful do I feel for the kind welcome I have 
met from them : and much profit I hope to derive 
from association with them. The day 'was, when 
the occupant of this pulpit was likewise a professor 
of Theology. Feeling has changed as to the main- 



32 The Perpetuation of Character 



tenance of such unions : and my whole occupation 
here will be that of a minister of Christ. I have 
sometimes, indeed, in another way, addressed another 
congregation, greater than even this great one : and 
I may do the like again : a congregation not of 
hearers but of readers : but you may be well assured 
that my solid work, and my first and best thoughts, 
shall ever be given to that gospel ministry, which is 
the duty and happiness of my life : and which, if I 
had to choose my path in life again, I should give 
myself to with something even warmer and more 
decided than the enthusiastic preference of early 
youth. I humbly trust in God, by the faithful 
preaching of the truth as it is in Jesus, and by dili- 
gent pastoral work from day to day, that all of us 
may be somewhat aided in breaking away from those 
evil thoughts and feelings and doings which are 
natural to us ; and by the grace of the Holy Spirit 
growing holy and righteous as He would have us 
be. I know that I shall always have the kind 
counsel and co-operation of my old college friend 
who is now my colleague ; as he shall ever have 
mine : I know how implicitly I may depend on the 
Kirk-session and all the congregation, for kind help, 
and forbearance, and reasonable expectations ; and 
frequent mention in family and private prayers. And 
I will not close this first sermon as minister of this 
city, without special recognition and acknowledg- 
ment of Him, by whose presence, grace, and strength, 



in the Future Life. 



33 



Christian people do all the good they do. Let us 
specially ask 5 this day, that our hearts may be filled 
with God's Holy Spirit ! Remember, Christian 
friends, that of the Three Persons in that Holy Tri- 
nity, whose name this ancient church bears, He is 
the One under whose mission we live. The Blessed 
Saviour, visibly departing from this world, left us to 
the Blessed Spirit. He begins, carries on, and 
completes, our better life : it is He who makes us 
meet, first for our duty, and then for our rest. Let 
us pray for His presence : I am perfectly sure that 
special prayer for that will be specially answered : 
will bring something that will warm the heart for 
worship and labour, as nothing else can in this world. 
With the prayer, Wash me in the Saviour's blood ; 
— not second to it but along with it and equal to 
it ; — let our daily and hourly prayer be, Fill me 
with Thy Spirit ! 

Dependent on Thy bounteous Breath, 

We seek Thy grace alone, 
Through childhood, manhood, age, and death, 

To keep us still Thine own ' 

SepL 17, 1865. 



D 



34 



in. 

REALIZATION. 

1 Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand ; and seeing ye shall 
see, and not perceive.' — Acts xxviii. 26. 

MY brethren, even now — at this moment, when 
I am beginning to preach this sermon to 
you — there are many persons dying. At this minute, 
a great number of human beings, people just such 
as we are, are passing away from this life. At this 
moment, if we could take in, in one large view, the 
stretches of this world, we should see rich people 
dying in their hushed and shaded chambers, and 
paupers on their sorry pallets : white men and black, 
civilised men and savage, are dying now. There 
is the last breath ; the last sharp pang ; the last sore 
struggle. There are weeping eyes, there are sobs 
of anguish, there are hearts crushed by parting. 
All this was when I read out my text. 

W ell, a little while has passed since then, and 
now these human beings are dead. Let us follow 
in thought the course their souls have taken ; and 
think that, in this minute, some souls are entering 



Realization. 



35 



heaven. Now, even now, some beings like our- 
selves are enjoying the beatific vision of Christ : 
hearing for the first time the song of the angels : 
meeting again long-divided friends : feeling within 
themselves the first strange emotion of the spirit 
free for ever from sorrow and sin. 

And at this moment also we might perhaps say 
with truth, that some men and women who were 
living when I began to speak to you, are now in 
woe. They have passed the awful gates, and the 
gates have meanwhile closed. And now, when we 
are met, as usual, within these walls, on another 
Sunday, there are perhaps some beings such as we 
who are feeling for the first time what is meant by 
losing the soul. 

Now, all this is a positive fact. You do not 
fancy that I am speaking from any special informa- 
tion beyond what you all have. We may say as 
much of any few minutes of indifferent time. 
Many of you know that in every five minutes that 
ebb away from us, three hundred immortal beings 
pass from this life into the great eternity beyond. 
Here, these minutes since : now, far away. But 
why is it that this tremendous fact does not strike 
us a million times more forcibly ? Why does all 
this convey so faint and indistinct an idea, and 
excite so little feeling in our breasts ? Ah, if w r e 
saw one drowning man : or if in the midst of this 
congregation a sudden stroke should now lay one 



36 



Realization. 



person dead, that sight would strike us : we should 
not be able to banish that thought for a while : in 
the case of some it would for a while disturb their 
waking hours, and haunt their sleep. And why 
should it be, then, that the thought of a matter in- 
comparably and inconceivably more striking and 
more weighty, should wake in us no feeling that 
will last, and should require to be presented to our 
minds with more than ordinary care to make it 
wake any feeling at all ? Brethren, the text ex- 
plains how all this is : It is that hearing we can 
hear and not understand, and seeing we can see and 
not perceive. 

Yes, the text describes the state of human nature 
in regard to spiritual things. I say it deliberately : 
that I believe it is the monster evil of our fallen 
nature, this want of power to realize spiritual 
things. It is a terrible misfortune, that we can 
talk about matters of the most awful importance in 
themselves, and the most awful bearing on our own 
condition ; and yet realize the thought of them as 
little as we can grasp the atmosphere, and feel as 
little emotion excited by the thought of them as if 
they were things in a fairy tale. It is God's inten- 
tion, doubtless,, so far : but surely it is one of the 
things our great Adversary works hardest to do, and 
is most successful in doing, to blunt men's spiritual 
perceptions, and to prevent them from truly taking 
in and feeling those great unseen realities of which 



'Realization. 



37 



it is so easy to speak. I cannot think of a thing 
that should fill our minds with such unutterable 
sadness, as to know that there are things all around 
us, dimly seen, like a mountain looming through 
mist, which, if we could just for once see them 
sharply and rightly, would fill our soul so that no 
wrong thought or vain thought should ever find 
room there again, and would make us serious people 
for ever. And the misery is, that we know such 
things are, but cannot by any effort make it seem as 
if they were. We know that God Himself, with 
all His omnipotence, could not have done more to 
draw us to Himself and to the Cross of Christ 
than He has, unless indeed He had driven us as by 
mechanical force, and made this life cease to be any 
state of trial. We know that Moses and the Pro- 
phets are enough, if men would but hear them : 
we know that Christ, lifted up from the earth, 
exerts a force that ought to draw all men to Hirn : 
yet men will not hear, and will not come, and will 
not be saved. For our ears are dull of hearing to 
spiritual truths, and our eyes dim to them : and 
through this fleshly vesture of decay, faintly and 
uncertainly come the messages God sends us, to the 
dreaming soul. And will nothing serve, do not we 
sometimes think, to waken men up from this sleep 
of ruin ; and as with a lightning flash, and an 
electric stroke, to make us see and feel those tre- 
mendous realities whose names come so ready to 



Realization. 



our lips, but the thoughts of which are so vague 
and dim ? Do not we sometimes think, like the 
rich man in woe, that if one went to them from the 
dead men would repent : that if the departed sinner, 
who has learned now what is meant by final perdi- 
dition, were set free for an hour from his awful 
prison-house, to break in upon the circle of the 
godless companions he left behind, and with all the 
awe of the separate state about him, to tell them, 
in a voice that should curdle their blood, of the 
anguish and misery he has gone to inherit, that 
warning would suffice ? Ah, but w^hat could he 
tell them that they do not know already ? It is no 
new^s that 1 the wicked shall be turned into hell \ 
and that is the sum of what he could say. They 
were just as sure of that before, as they can possibly 
be now : they knew it in their head, but did not 
realize it in their heart. And will they do so now ? 
Nay \ for Christ Himself has told us, that those 
who believe not Moses and the Prophets, would 
not be persuaded though one should rise from the 
dead. 

This want of power to realize spiritual things ; — 
to feel their existence in its awful magnitude, or even 
to feel that they exist as much as the earth we tread 
on, and the material things we grasp ; — this is the 
great cause of the comparative inefFectualness of the 
preaching of the gospel. A chief reason why peo- 
ple can come to church for years, and yet grow not 



'Realization. 



39 



one whit the better, is that they do not actually feel 
the reality of the things that are spoken of there. 
Many folk think that there is a great difference be- 
tween a thing being in a sermon, and in the actual 
work-day world. If men truly felt what is meant 
by the worship of God : if they truly felt the over- 
whelming magnitude of the things they come to the 
house of God to hear of : if they could for once, 
and for one moment, catch a glimpse of things as 
they are ; with what a depth of seriousness would 
their souls be filled every time these walls re- 
ceived them ! We are told of a good divine who 
never could utter the name of God without a pause 
in whatever he was saying ; and most of us may 
sometimes have felt as if a sudden ray of light had 
shown us what is meant by eternity, and the loss or 
salvation of an immortal soul. And these are in- 
stances in which we for a little understood something 
of what we had often heard without understand- 
ing, and perceived something of what we had often 
seen without perceiving. 

I shall seek, by God's blessing, to point out some 
of the leading truths and realities in regard to which 
our souls are affected by this wretched dulness of 
perception. To point out all of these would be 
impossible : because there is not a single subject of 
serious thought, or a single thing that bears in any 
degree on our eternal well-being, the view of which 
is not dimmed and obscured by the malignant influ- 



40 



Realization. 



ence that has touched and paralysed what we may- 
call the organs of spiritual perception. But we may 
profitably fix upon some things, our forgetfulness of 
which, and our insensibility to which, evidently pro- 
duce the most baneful effects upon our souls' health. 
And the first thins I mention as one which hearing 
we hear but do not understand, is the constant pre- 
sence and constant inspection of God. 

I am not speaking now of the difficulty felt by 
many in realizing that there is any God at all. That 
is a different matter altogether : and we may just 
remark of it in passing, that we believe such a 
difficulty will exist only in the mind of him who 
philosophizes on the nature of the Deity till he has 
refined away all conviction of His personality, and 
come to regard Him as little more than the most 
abstract of all abstractions, and the most general of 
general laws. I know that there is in many minds, 
and these too the loftiest and most intelligent, a true 
and honestly-felt difficulty in the way of realizing 
God : and doubtless one great end that was answered 
by the Incarnation of our Saviour, was, the giving 
us something which the mind could grasp and rest 
on , — something that would afford a more personal 
idea of our Maker, than could be gained from the 
thought of His unapproachable perfections, — of 
infinite space, and infinite years. We are speaking 
now of a difficulty far more commonly felt, and 
which all minds are able to feel: we are speaking of 



Realization. 



41 



the difficulty of realizing to our souls that wherever 
we are, and whatever we are doing and saying, 
there is an unseen Bystander near, watching every 
act, and listening to every word we utter. Every 
man knows, and every man is ready to acknowledge, 
that God is everywhere, and therefore of course is 
here : but is there one man in a million who will 
venture to say he realizes what is meant by this ? 
Is there one soul here who will venture to tell us 
that he feels as sensibly that God is within these 
walls, as he feels the presence of his next neighbour 
whom he can see and touch : and that he has been 
remembering since he took his place in this church 
even to-day, that there has been a silent eve whose 
solemn regards have without one moment's pause 
been fixed and focussed on every soul here, and 
upon himself individually ; that he has remembered 
this as much as if he had seen before him that eye 
with its steady gaze, that gathers up every jot and 
tittle it sees into a memory that never will forget ? 
Unless you feel, each of you, the presence of God 
here now just as forcibly and awfully as if the flames 
of Sinai shone on your face, or the still small voice 
that spoke to Elijah fell thrilling on your ear, — 
unless you do all this, you, even now, are hearing 
without understanding, and seeing while you do not 
perceive. And if it be that even in this solemn 
place, in this solemn hour, and with all the advan- 
tage of having your thoughts specially directed to the 



Realization. 



subject, your minds labour and wrestle and wake all 
their energies in vain to bring it home to them that 
God has been listening to this sermon as well as 
you, and that He is here as much as you, — Oh, how 
little realized must have been the thought that He 
was your constant Companion and your constant 
Witness, in those long hours of common employ- 
ment and common life, that passed with scarce a 
thought of His existence, and scarce a mention of 
His Name ? 

Now, why should this be so ? If somewhere in 
the far horizon, you could now see flames like those 
of Sinai, and hear voices proceeding from those 
flames, you think that these would keep you 
from forgetting that God is always watching you : 
you think you would hardly fritter away life in folly 
or sin, while thus assured of the presence and in- 
spection of your Creator. Or, if we might suppose 
that some dimly seen form, a being from another 
world, should haunt your steps wherever you should 
go, — that in the stillness of night you should feel its 
cold breath, and hear its strange voice as it bent 
over you, — you think that that would be something 
whose presence you would not forget, and whose 
presence you would feel as something real and true. 
And why then should it be, that the constant pre- 
sence of the Infinite Spirit, Who besets us behind 
and before, Who compasses our path and our lying- 
down, should be so often forgot altogether, and so 



Realization. 



43 



faintly felt when it is remembered best ? A man 
whose blood would be chilled and his tongue palsied 
by even the suspicion of the presence of an appari- 
tion of a human being, hears us tell with absolutely 
no emotion, how there is beside him for ever, though 
he see no form and hear no voice, that King Eter- 
nal, Immortal, Invisible, whose name the sinner 
would not dare to utter if he did but feel what it 
meant. And the only explanation we can give of 
all this must be, that men merely believe that God 
is always by them and looking on them ; and that 
to believe a thing, and to realize it, are wide as the 
poles asunder : because hearing we can hear, but not 
understand; and seeing we can see, but not per- 
ceive ! 

Another matter in regard to which the same 
numbness possesses our faculties, is the Reality of 
the Future Life. Almost every man, in this country 
of Christian enlightenment, will tell you that he 
knows perfectly well that what we call death is no 
suspension and no loss of being : that all the mil- 
lions who have lived on this earth are living yet ; 
and that he himself, when in a little while he dies, 
will be only going from one province to another 
province in the same great dominion : only going 
from a scene in which God wills that souls shall 
live in bodily tabernacles, to another where for a 
while they must put off these. But we do not 



44 



Realization. 



hesitate to say, that the vast majority of those who 
profess to believe all this, do not realize it : in 
regard to this matter they hear without understanding, 
and see without perceiving. Their conduct proves 
this. It is a common thing to say, that a man's 
conduct is the best indication of what his belief is : 
that is, that if a man acts as if such a thing were 
true, that is the best proof that he thinks it true. 
But when we come to religious things, there is a 
complete reversal of many of those axioms that 
pass current in the world. We find here hosts of 
men who profess to believe a truth, and who actually 
do hold the speculative belief of it, who yet act 
precisely as they would if no such truth existed. 
And surely there is no single point in regard to 
which this is so extensively and decidedly the case, 
as in regard to this matter of a Future Life, — of 
Heaven and Hell. For it is plain enough to see 
that very many live just as they would if there were 
no such places as these. Very many live as if they 
fancied they were to live on earth for ever ; or at 
least as if they fancied they were never to live any- 
where else. And yet it would be unjust to say that 
even the most reckless evil-doer we commonly meet 
with, does not believe in the existence of heaven 
and hell ; and no good can follow from your telling 
him that his conduct shows he does not believe in 
them. You are doing him injustice there, he knows. 
He believes in them with the most fixed belief : he 



Realization. 



45 



has no doubt upon the subject. You have but to 
mention the fact, and he agrees with you. Ah ! 
but here is the very point of the difficulty : here is 
the very thing that makes it possible for the worldly 
man and the sinner, and all of us if unconvinced 
by God's Spirit, to live on without making the least 
preparation for the next world, — without making 
one honest endeavour to gain eternal bliss or to 
avoid eternal woe. There is nothing so easy to 
shut the eyes against, as just the truth we know 
perfectly well. If people doubted the truth, you 
might prove it to them, and then hope that its new- 
ness would combine with its awfulness to awake 
them to earnest thought ; but the very readiness of 
the assent they yield it makes it less likely that it 
will ever affect them as it ought. For they know 
it and believe it, but do not realize it and feel it : 
and if a man has lived to middle age, all his life 
long believing a truth without feeling it, this makes 
it sadly probable that he never will feel it on this 
side the grave at all. Now, you know how true all 
this is of the reality of the life to come, and of the 
bliss or woe we must inherit there. Think of the 
worldly-prudent man, who is content to wear away 
the best years of his life in constant toil, and pinching 
privation, that thus he may accumulate that wealth 
which may surround his declining years with ease 
and comfort. And think you that this prudent 
man, so self-denying in the present that he may lay 



4 6 



Realization. 



up wealth against the future, — think you that he 
would live on through all his life on earth without 
making the least provision for a life hereafter, if he 
really felt, what he professes to believe, that after- 
years in this world are not half so sure to come to 
him, as endless ages are in a state of being for which 
earthly riches make no provision ? If he did realize 
this, why should his prudence extend only to that 
part of his life which is on this side the grave, 
when he knows that beyond it his life will run on 
as truly and as much as ever ? Or, think of the 
regardless sinner, who goes on in the path of guilt 
and shame, though he has read of the worm that 
never dies and the fire that is never quenched, and 
though he never doubts that these things are some- 
where. Yes, he believes it, but he does not feel it y 
he hears without understanding, and he Sees without 
perceiving. For, if he could call up the black 
picture of the place of woe, even as the kind 
Saviour Himself told of it : if, one instant, he could 
look down into the dark tremendous deep to which 
every day is bringing him nearer : if he could dis- 
cern the outer darkness, as God's word says it is ; 
would he live one hour more in the path which must 
lead thither ? If he could realize it ; but without 
some signal interposition of God's Spirit he never 
will. O the desperate case of him who has grown so 
familiar with these solemn truths, that they make no 
impression on the indurated heart and conscience : 



Realization. 



47 



who knows that his soul is lost ; and yet only wishes 
to think of something else, and only feels he does 
not care ! 

A farther matter in regard to which we have to 
bewail this want of power to realize things as they 
truly are, is our need of a saving interest in Christ. 

This seems a plain and simple thing. If a man 
feels a great want within himself, he should have no 
difficulty in realizing his need of that which alone 
can supply that want. A man perishing for thirst 
knows thoroughly his need of that water which will 
quench it : and every sinful creature's need of 
the Saviour is just as pressing and as real as his. 
But this is a truth which above all others dwells in 
the mind of many a paralysed and inefficient thing, 
It is admitted so readily, — it is so absolutely certain 
and undeniable, — that this very circumstance seems 
with many to destroy its practical effect. 

Ask any thoughtful man, professedly a Christian, 
what it is he most needs : what it is of all things in 
the universe that there is the most imperative ne- 
cessity for him, as a rational and immortal being, to 
obtain. It requires no deliberation to answer such 
a question as that. Many things are desirable, but 
one thing is needful ; and that is a saving interest in 
Christ, — assuring to such as gain it, pardon, peace, 
holiness, glory, rest. 

Well, then, if a thing be truly felt to be the thing 



4 8 



Realization. 



we most need, there are two consequences which 
will follow. It will be the thing we most desire ; 
and the thing we most labour for. And if we 
realized to our souls that one thing is so supremely 
needful, that in the comparison with it even those 
things which are most essential to our comfort and 
our very existence are not needful at all, — then it 
will follow that the desire we feel for that thing so 
needful, and the exertion we put forth to gain it, 
shall be incomparably deeper and greater than we 
ever felt or put forth in the case of anything else. 
My brethren, is all this so ? 

Let me ask each person here, what it is that he 
or she has been most earnestly desiring for these 
last few days. Take just the days that have passed 
since we last assembled in this church. What has 
been uppermost in your minds since then ? Let 
none of us except ourselves from the enquiry : let 
each soul ask itself. Have I been supremely desiring 
the thing I most need, for the last week ? If I have 
not, then I am not realizing my need of the Saviour. 
If I feel I am more anxious to get on in life, — more 
anxious about the health and welfare of those dear to 
me, — then I am not realizing my need of the Saviour. 
For if I did, never did fainting man, perishing for 
thirst on the hot desert sand, long for the cold 
spring that was life to him, as I should for an in- 
terest in the cross of Christ. 

But we said that if a thing was felt to be 



Realization. 



49 



supremely needful, we should not merely desire it 
most, but we should labour for it most. 

Again, my brethren, let me ask each of you to 
look back over his past life, and to consider what it 
is he has spent most pains on, since his being began 
till now. Can we say, honestly, that we have be- 
stowed as much labour upon the working out of 
our salvation as we have upon the acquiring per- 
haps of a dead language, or of some accomplish- 
ment which at best was only pleasing ? Most of 
us have worked hard in our day. Did we work - 
hardest to get the one thing needful ? Some men 
have toiled for wealth and influence : some for 
learning and knowledge : but dare we say, — is 
there one of us that will dare to say, — that, if you 
cast into one mass all the labour of his past lifetime 
which has been spent upon earthly things, — the 
labour he has spent upon working out his salvation 
would outweigh, or would even equal, that great 
sum ? We have most of us gone through a good 
deal of toil since last Sunday : can we say that we 
have given most energy to the most important 
thing ? Or is it not rather true that we have 
ppent the best part of our strength upon our worldly 
affairs ; and given only jaded powers, and any odd 
scraps of time, to doing that which we profess to 
believe is the great thing we have to do on 
earth ? 

Ah ! my brethren, if we felt our need of the 

E 



Realization. 



Saviour as really as we do our want of earthly 
things, we should desire and we should labour for 
a part in His atoning sacrifice far differently from 
what we do now. What but the strangest in- 
fatuation can explain the anxious care with which 
men labour for the things that perish, while they 
hardly bestow a thought on those which last for 
ever ? Why should it be, that the parent who 
wastes strength and life on that toil which is to 
provide for the earthly wants of his little ones, can 
live on without one earnest endeavour that they 
should possess that which yet he is ready to ac- 
knowledge is a thousand times more needful ? 
And why should it be, that the mother, who 
watches with a trembling concern over the health 
of her child, dreading the hectic spot even in the 
flush of health, and filled with sore misgiving at 
the sight of every early grave, — why should it be 
that she, amid all that careful tenderness, should 
think so little of that fatal infection which runs in 
the veins of the youngest soul, and of that plague- 
spot which can be washed away only in the blood 
of Jesus ? It is a sad and a sore sight, when some 
young one, smitten with wasting disease, is bidden, 
as the last faint hope, to leave the home of child- 
hood, and to seek some milder clime, whose balmy 
breezes may perhaps fan the cheek to the glow of 
health once more : and we can think of few things 
more affecting than the last parting from parents 



'Realization. 



and brothers and sisters, whose foreboding looks 
and sighs tell that they know that death may be 
delayed but not averted, — that the sunbeams of 
Italy will smile in vain, and its climate can work 
no cure. And we can think of few things more 
sad than of that young exile, fading day by day in 
a foreign land, and pining amid fairer scenes and 
skies for the well-remembered trees and sunsets far 
away at home. But if we saw things right, we 
should see a sadder sight in many a one who is a 
parent's pride and hope : we should see that which 
angels might weep over in the gay, thoughtless 
worldling, that lives and acts in the forgetfulness of 
a Saviour and a life to come. For a direr malady 
is sapping that young life ; a more deadly disease 
is working there ! 

Thus we have glanced at some of the grandest 
realities in regard to which our souls are affected 
with this strange torpor : in regard to which men 
are placed in the awful position of seeing, as in a 
dream, things the most inexpressibly important, in 
such fashion that their practical force is destroyed. 
Oh, brethren, can you think of more distressing proof 
how fallen is our nature, than that this should be so ! 
To think that very many in this Christian land are 
advancing to eternal ruin, while yet, look where 
they may, they are met and confronted by things 
which they themselves acknowledge are enough, if 



52 



Realization. 



they could only feel them and realize them, to 
compel them to instant thought and instant repent- 
ance, — what a fearful truth is this ! How awful 
to think, that in the mind of all of us, there is a 
clear apprehension, and a constant conviction, of the 
necessity of immediate attention to the grand con- 
cern of religion ; while yet, side by side with these, 
there is in the mind of many, a conviction no less 
deep, that that attention never has been given; and a 
desponding sense that, like the incubus of a dream, 
some fatal blasting influence sits heavy on the soul, 
that withers its energies, and dims its sight, — so 
that without some special interference, some strange 
break in the common course of nature, that atten- 
tion never will be given at all ! Would God, we 
are ready to say, that some fearful interruption to 
the current of their life, should startle the thought- 
less and slumbering souls from this dream of ruin ! 
Would that a voice should be given to every grave : 
would that from every quarter to which their eyes 
can be turned, there should be flung back the 
warning of perdition ! Would' that the earth might 
shiver beneath their feet, — that the spirits of the 
lost might haunt them and speak to them, — that 
the great Enemy of souls himself should glare upon 
them as he crossed their path ! But there comes 
no supernatural voice : the earth lies still in its tracts 
of land and sea ; and no blasted spirit from the world 
of perdition speaks to the sinner, in sentences of 



Realization. 53 

lightning and thunder, of the reckless folly that 
directs him now. It seems as if God had said, that 
man has warning enough already : let him listen to 
that, for he shall have no more ! Never, in all the 
time before us, shall we have better reason for 
repenting and believing than we have to-day. Oh, 
that God's enlightening Spirit would set right before 
us the awful realities amid which we live : — for thus 
only, hearing we shall hear, and shall understand ; 
and seeing we shall see, and perceive. 



54 



IV. 

RESTRAINING PRAYER. 

1 Thou restraincst prayer before God.' — Job xv. 4. 

5 TT 7HAT was it that brought you into all this 
* ^ trouble ? 9 you say to a man whose affairs have 
got embarrassed ; who has been spending more than 
he had to spend, and must retrench ; or who cannot 
meet his creditors and must become a bankrupt — 
4 What was it that involved you in all this vexation 
and distress ?' And the man replies to you, 'Well, 
things went against me in various ways ; but the 
particular thing that brought me to this was such 
and such a piece of expense, such and such a wrong 
step I took, such and such a want of prudence or 
calculation, such and such a piece of bad luck; and 
I see now it was that that did it ; and so I am as 
you see/ 

1 What is the matter with me ? 9 you say to your 
physician sometime when you feel ill and out of 
sorts : 1 I feel all duty a painful effort : I have not 
strength nor heart for anything : everything seems 



Restraining Prayer. 55 



dreary and cheerless, and has lost its interest : I feel 
weak, and anxious, and snappish, and ill : What is 
the matter ?' And then your kind and judicious 
friend tells you that you have been overworking 
yourself ; or that you have not sufficiently guarded 
yourself against a trying climate and an unhealthy 
season : tells you that some little organ of your 
fearful and wonderful body is out of order, that 
brain or heart or nervous system have been over- 
driven ; and that has done it all. And of course 
we can all easily see, that to know what it is that 
has put things wrong, is a great step towards setting 
things right. 

No doubt, what we should all like best, would 
be to be told that everything about us is as it ought 
to be j that our affairs are well-managed and flourish- 
ing ; that our health, spirits, and strength are 
excellent : that is what we should like to be told, 
provided it were all true. But we should not like 
to be told it, if we knew quite well it was not true. 
If we know that our worldly affairs are all wrong, 
and that our health of body and mind is frail and 
unsatisfactory, then the kindest thing you can do for 
us is, not to try to shut our eyes to the fact, but to 
tell us why it is so. The Latin poet wrote words 
which mean this : c Happy is he who has been 
able to find out the causes of things/ And for 
one reason this is true, because the man who has 
found out the reason why he is ill, why he is wrong. 



56 'Restraining Prayer. 



has found out what will be a great help to him in 
getting himself made well and right. 

My friends, you do not think that I have said all 
this merely for its application to our worldly cares 
and concerns. No ; all this was suggested to me 
when I fixed on this text last Sunday evening, and 
determined that by God's blessing I should preach 
from it this afternoon. I believe that this text helps 
us to put our finger on the cause of a great deal 
that is amiss in all of us : I believe that this is why 
all the Christian people here present are not a great 
deal more Christian, more happy, more kind, more 
wise, more liberal, more forgiving, more forbearing, 
more excellent in every way, than they now are. 
Here is what is wrong : — c Thou restrainest prayer 
before God ! 5 Is there a single soul present who 
does not feel that this may be truly said to him- 
self? Is there one of us who really thinks that 
he gets all the good out of prayer that he might ; 
and that he faithfully uses this great means as much 
as he ought to use it, as a prudent man and a Christian 
man ? Now, hear me when I ask each of you these 
questions: — Do you sometimes feel downhearted, 
weary and anxious ? Do you feel that you are not 
growing in grace ? Do you feel that you are not 
succeeding in putting down the bad dispositions that 
are within you, — dispositions to worldliness, to 
greediness of earthly gain and standing, to discon- 
tent, envy, and uncharitableness ? Do you feel that 



Restraining Prayer. 



57 



you are not growing more useful, hopeful, amiable, 
forgiving, as time goes on? Do you feel that,after all, 
it is not your great end to. glorify God and enjoy him 
for ever r — that it is impossible to say that that is 
your purpose in life ? Does it sometimes come bitterly 
across you, and with a sorrowful self-upbraiding, 
that, notwithstanding all your Christian profession, 
you are really living very much as if Christ had 
never lived nor died, and as if the Holy Spirit had 
never come down to this world to help us, cheer us, 
sanctify us ? And do you sometimes wonder why 
all this is so ? Now, no human being can put a hand 
(as it were) on the soul's pulse, and tell us what is 
amiss there with the confidence with which the 
physician can speak of the cause of bodily ailment ; 
but without doing that, I can say that it is very 
likely, that it is all but certain, that the reason of all 
this trouble, and dull discouragement, and want of 
growth and health, is, that you are doing just the 
thing that Job's unkind friend accused him of in my 
text, — 'restraining prayer before God.' Yes, it is 
almost certain that this is what is wrong ; and we 
must look now into the matter carefully. It is quite 
certain that if this cause be present, it is quite enough 
to account for all these sad effects. If you are re- 
straining prayer, that is, neglecting prayer, pushing 
it into a corner, and making it give way to every- 
thing else, — offering it formally and heartlessly, and 
with no real earnestness and' purpose, praying as if 



58 Restraining Prayer. 



you were sure your prayer would go all for nothing, 
— then it is no wonder if you are downhearted and 
anxious, and if grace is languishing and dying in 
you ; and you growing, in spite of all your religious 
profession, just as worldly as the most worldly of 
men and women round you. And if you were to 
ask one who, like the Apostles, had the power of 
discerning spirits, to say what is the matter with you, 
that you are so far from being as Christ would wish 
to have his people be ; doubtless that keen observer, 
looking upon your face, and looking beneath the 
outward frame upon the soul that dwells within it, 
and that is now pining so sorrowfully, would read 
the cause of all the mischief and misery, and tell it 
to you in the words of Eliphaz the Temanite, 
1 Thou restraineth prayer before God.' 

It does not matter at all, now, to you or me, 
whether when Eliphaz said this about Job, it was 
true or not. It may have been ; but more pro- 
bably it was one of those unkind things which 
Job's friends said concerning him in his time of 
heavy trouble; and which correspond to the things 
said yet by unsympathetic and stupid people to 
friends who have fallen into distress, disappoint- 
ment, or difficulty ; such as c Did not we tell you 
so ?' or, c It is nobody's fault but your own.' For 
stupidity, and want of sympathy, sometimes lead 
human beings, with the very best intentions, to say 
and do extremely unkind things. But we put all 



Restraining Prayer. 59 



that aside just now, and we think of the charge of 
4 restraining prayer ' as though it were brought 
against you and me who are here to-day, as an 
explanation why we are not growing more in grace ; 
why we are not holier and happier than we are ; 
why our light, as Christian people, is not shining 
out more brightly to the glory of our Saviour, and 
the good of our fellow-men. Let us try, my 
friends, to have some close dealing with our own 
souls this afternoon : let us look into it, whether 
we are not neglecting prayer : and may God's 
blessed Spirit make all this good for us. 

There can be no doubt at all that the neglect of 
prayer is a sadly common sin. It is likewise, 
when we calmly think of it, a most extraordinary 
folly. It would strike a stranger to our world as 
a very inexplicable thing, if you told him what 
prayer is, what may be got by it, how impossible 
it is for creatures like us to be happy or good with- 
out it ; and then told him, not how your neighbours 
seem to be neglecting it, but how ready you are to 
neglect it yourself ; how often you are aware of a 
dull indisposition to it ; how, when speaking to 
God, you are ready to think of other things \ how 
perfectly heartless and indifferent your prayers 
sometimes are ; offered with no real purpose or 
intention, and with not the least expectation that 
they are to be answered, — yea, sometimes without 
the slightest conscious wish that they should be so! 



6o Restraining Prayer. 

If you went and called upon some influential man, 
to ask a favour of him ; and if somebody met you 
coming out of his door, and enquired what it was 
you were asking of that influential man ; do you 
think you would have the least difficulty in re- 
membering what it was ? And yet, sometimes, 
rising from your knees, if you were to ask yourself 
what the things are that you have really been 
begging God to give you, you could hardly tell : 
you have forgotten all about it : you were just 
going, in a careless, half-awakened way, over a 
string of sentences you have got into the way of 
saying : you went to God, never having thought 
what you wanted ; and you have come away, not 
truly knowing what it is you have been asking. 
Now, is that true ? Does that come home to the 
conscience of any one here ? Ah, my friends, 
rather is there one among us who can say that he 
has never sinned in this way ? Yet if you told a 
stranger to this world, that people here may go to 
God through Christ, and tell Him what they want, 
and so either get that or get the grace to do with- 
out it; surely that stranger would say, * Well, 
here is a Christian duty which is sure to be done. 
There are Christian duties which are trying and 
difficult, and which people would escape if they 
could \ but surely this will be heartily done by 
all ! * And how it would surprise him, to be told 
that there is not a duty which ordinary Christians 



'Restraining Prayer. 61 



need to see to more contantly, lest they get into 
the way of neglecting it, or going through it as a 
mere form ! How it would surprise him, if he 
knew how perfunctorily, heartlessly, hastily, form- 
ally, Christian people by profession do oftentimes 
go through the duty of prayer ! And yet, here it 
is, the best means to all right ends : the very last 
thing in prudence to be omitted : the thing that 
will bring God's wisdom to counsel us, God's 
mighty power to uphold and defend us : the thing 
without which our souls will droop and die ; more 
needful to the growth of grace in us than showers 
and sunshine are to the growing grass or the green 
leaves ! Now, when you are in a hurry any morn- 
ing to get to your work, or to go on a journey, 
what is it of all the morning engagements that has 
to go to the wall ? What is it that is pushed aside ? 
Do not we all know too well ? Other things, all 
right and proper, must be done ; but you will do 
without the indispensable thing : you will cut 
down the supremely important thing. You will cut 
short, or even omit, the time of prayer ! 

I am speaking, of course, to professedly Christian 
people, as all of us are - } when I describe this way 
of c restraining prayer before God.' There are 
people who restrain prayer, who do not pray at all, 
because they believe that prayer will do them no 
good ; that prayer is of no use. There have been 
mistaken men, who declared that to pray to God 
was presumptuously to dictate to God what to do, 



62, Restraining Prayer. 



which He knows far better than we do ; and who 
declared that it is in the nature of things impossible 
that prayer can have any effect, because this world 
is governed by fixed laws, which hold on in their 
course, and cannot be affected by any wishes or re- 
quests of ours. Now, these men are wrongs but 
they are. at least consistent. If prayer be not our 
duty : if prayer will not do us any good : if Christ 
was wrong when He taught us to pray ; and if the 
blessed Spirit is intrusive when He prompts us and 
helps us to pray ; then, of course, prayer may end. 
But, oh, rny friends, it is not that that is wrong with 
us ! We believe in prayer. We believe in the 
duty of it : we believe in the efficacy of it : God 
helps our lurking unbelief, indeed ! It is not for 
any expressed erroneous opinion that professing 
Christians restrain prayer. It is through carelessness : 
lack of interest in it ; vague dislike to close com- 
munion with God ; lack of vital faith, the faith of 
heart as well as head, what a real and mighty thing 
prayer is. That is what is wrong : want of sense 
of the reality of prayer : dislike to go and be face 
to face alone with God. Now, ask yourselves this : 
Do you ever feel it a relief and a deliverance, when 
something comes that prevents your having family 
prayer, or that cuts very short your private prayer ? 
Do you know, in yourself, that you are sometimes 
glad of an excuse by which you can push away the 
unwelcome duty ? Do you ever feel a sense, when 



Restraining Prayer. 63 



you have p^yed, c Now that is over ; I shall not 
need to do that again for a good while ? * Christian 
friends, it is a bad, bad sign of us when that is so ! 
It makes it very doubtful whether we are indeed 
Christian people at all. It shows that we find peace 
and rest rather in getting away from God, than in 
going to God as a reconciled Father in Christ. 
And very little of the grace of the Holy Spirit can 
be in his heart, who does not feel it natural and easy 
to take all his troubles, duties, wants and sins, to 
the throne of grace, and relieve his burdened heart 
by pouring it out to his Saviour. My friends, the 
very essence of practical Christianity lies in making 
choice of God in Christ for your soul's portion here 
and for ever : its language is, in sober earnest,. 
c Whom have I in heaven but Thee ? And there 
is none upon the earth that I desire beside Thee ! 9 
And, oh, how languid, how dead > grace must be in 
his heart, who knows that indeed he is easiest when 
he keeps away from God: — who feels a vague yet 
rooted disinclination to go into God's presence in 
prayer, and a relief when he gets away from it ! 
Oh, what reason he has for earnest prayer, who, when 
he goes to God's footstool, ought to begin by telling 
God that he does not want to come at all : that he has 
forced himself up to it unwillingly; and because he 
is afraid something will happen to him if he quite 
neglects prayer ! Yes, it is just when we feel least 
inclined to pray, that we need to pray the most 



64 Restraining Prayer. 



earnestly. My friends, when you feel |his deadness, 
you can never fail to know what ought to be the 
subject of your prayer. Here is something to con- 
fess ! Go to God in the Saviour's name, and tell 
Him you feel no true desire to come ; and humble 
yourself before Him in the sense of that great short- 
coming ; and pray for the Holy Spirit to help you 
to pray, because you cannot do it by yourself. Pray 
for such a sight of Christ upon the cross, as shall 
draw your heart to Him : pray for such a sense of 
your sinfulness, as shall make you feel your need of 
Him : pray anew for the happy knowledge of what 
is meant by finding Him, opening the door of the 
heart to Him, embracing Him by a saving faith ; 
till you feel that He is your portion, your refuge, 
and salvation : till you reach this unshaken footings 
this anchor of the soul, this conviction of heart-felt 
experience^ which the ancient Saint expressed in 
words so familiar to us, and that grasp and give us 
the vital essence of all religion : 6 Thou madest us 
for Thyself j and our souls are restless till they find 
rest in Thee ! ' 

And when the Holy Spirit brings us to that, 
there will be an end of praying morning and 
evenings just as shortly as may be to clear our 
conscience ; hastily, heartlessly, with little point or 
intention, little real effort or purpose, and with the 
sense of relief when we get away. There will be an 
end of praying to God as poor heathens pray to the 



Restraining Prayer. 65 



Devil, for fear He will do you harm if you do not : 
an end of using prayer like a sort of witch's amulet 
cr spell, just to keep off something dreadful. There 
will be an end of giving in to the feeling, from time 
to time, that really now you are so tired, so worried 
and vexed, that you cannot pray, — have no time 
and no heart for it. You will understand that if 
you be so overdriven, so wearied and vexed, that is 
the very reason why you should pray. Your prayer 
need not be long, but let it be hearty ; and see that 
in it you specially acknowledge and seek for the 
Blessed Holy Spirit : and, oh, that will calm your 
pulse, and cheer your heart, and clear your way [ 
The moments given to prayer are not taken from 
work : prayer is the very best means of doing 
your work, and bearing your burden, and seeing 
through your perplexities : everything good in you 
will flourish in the kindly atmosphere of communion 
with God. Yes, if ever you see any one speaking 
or acting in a foolish or wrong way, you may be 
quite sure he has not prayed to God for guidance. 
If you find yourself signally failing, in judgment or 
in temper, in some important and critical time or 
business, you may be sure that you did not that 
morning take that matter to God in your closet, and 
ask His grace and direction. Be sure of this, Chris- 
tian friends, that at the root of all our failures, our 
errors, our follies, our hasty words, our wrong deeds, 
our weak faith, our cold devotion, our decreasing 

F 



66 Restraining Prayer. 



grace, there is the neglect of prayer \ and that which 
Job's friend said to him in unkindness, the good 
Physician of Souls would say to us in the spirit of 
kind warning and correction, c Thou restrainest 
prayer before God.' 

You see that in the hope of really bringing it 
home to ourselves how sadly we many times fail 
in the duty of praying, I have been suggesting 
to you some forms of remissness and heartless- 
ness, only too familiar, specially concerning our 
private prayers ; those which we offer, each of us, 
alone with our God. But you know, brethren, that 
the accusation in the text may be brought, too, con- 
cerning social prayer. There are too many houses 
in which family prayer is neglected. And who does 
not know that what has been said as to praying with 
a careless heart and with wandering- thoughts in the 
closet, may be said even more strongly of the devo- 
tions of the house of prayer ? Very often in church, 
we have seen manifest signs of listlessness and care- 
lessness ; we have been constrained to feel that of 
all .those who were standing or kneeling in the atti- 
tude of prayer, but a small proportion was actually 
and earnestly praying, while the words of prayer 
were being said. Then it is to be remembered, 
that there is a great difference between listening to 
the prayer offered, and joining heartily in it, making 
it your own. There is a marked distinction, some- 
times, between the great attention with which you 



Restraining Prayer, 



will find the sermon listened to, and the comparative 
indifference with which the prayers are got through : 
and though we often hear it said that this is the 
special reproach of our Scottish Church, I cannot 
but say that I have many times seen it just as con- 
spicuous in the services of the Church on the other 
side of the Tweed : it is the fault, not of Presbytery 
or Episcopacy, but of sinful human nature. May 
the Blessed Spirit of prayer save us from it, my 
friends ! 

Then, thinking still of Restraining Prayer in 
reference to our public prayers, let us ask ourselves, 
Now, do we always and earnestly pray for a bless- 
ing on God's worship before we go to church? Do 
we, specially, pray before entering God's house for 
the presence and grace of the Holy Spirit ? In our 
prayers, in the closet and in the family, do we all, 
each Sunday morning, pray for God's blessing upon 
the entire services of the holy day, upon our fellow- 
worshippers, upon the ministers who are to conduct 
God's worship ? — for how much they, in their 
weakness and dependence, need the aid of God's 
Spirit, and the support of the people's prayers ! 
And though all this may have been asked, along 
with other things, in the morning devotions, sure I 
am that we should all find it both profitable and 
pleasant, if we resolved that on entering God's 
house, we should always ask, each by himself for a 
quiet moment, God's blessing and the Holy Ghost's 



68 Restraining Prayer. 



presence in silent prayer. It is cheering, in another 
country, to see all, old and young, rich and poor, 
entering God's house or leaving it, pause for a mo- 
ment in silent prayer. How much real good might 
follow, if each one in this congregation, on entering 
church, prayed for a blessing upon himself and on 
all ; prayed for the Blessed Spirit, so certainly pro- 
mised in answer to prayer ! It need not be done 
with any formality, any outw T ard sign ; but, oh, let 
there be, in every one of us, the lifting up of the 
heart to our Heavenly Father, to our Blessed 
Redeemer ! I do not venture to say that if we did 
that, we should never be disappointed of finding our 
Saviour in His house according to His pi*omise ; of 
finding God sensibly draw near to us, drawing near 
to Him. No : God may see good sometimes to 
humble us ; and to hide His face from us, because 
of our sins. We may still, perhaps, find a 
Communion Sunday disappointing ; not hearty and 
happy as before. W e may some days find that the 
pravers and praises seem cold and heartless, some- 
how, and the sermon unreal, and uninteresting, and 
not home to our hearts as we should wish it: it may 
please God to send us these trials, and thereby to 
humble us, and make us feel more deeply our entire 
dependence on Himself. But, if they are to come, 
let it at least not be through our own fault and neg- 
ligence, in 6 restraining prayer before God.' 

And now you will say, If it be so bad a thing 



Restraining Prayer. 69 



to neglect prayer, and if we have all so great a ten- 
dency to neglect it, what are we to do to the end that 
our prayers may be more real, hearty, and frequent ? 
How shall we make sure we shall not fall into this 
sin and folly any more ? Christian friends, I can- 
not pretend to show you how you may entirely 
avoid this sin : I know that to the end of your life 
you will sometimes fall into it ; and that among 
your confessions you will often have to say to your 
God, c I have restrained prayer before Thee.' 
Yet there are two things which I may fitly suggest 
to you, as things which, will save you from this sin. 
One is, that you oftentimes pray, 4 Lord, increase 
our faith ! ' For if we had faith to realize what 
prayer is, what prayer can do— if we could feel that 
to neglect prayer is to neglect our souls and eter- 
nity — to neglect everything that is worth caring 
for in this world : if we could feel that in heartv 
prayer we are speaking to our Blessed Saviour face 
to face, and that He is listening kindly as He used 
to listen to all : if we really believed that earnest 
prayer will help us to everything good, better than 
anything else will, should we be remiss in the use 
of this mighty means ? — should we ever slight this 
unutterable privilege ? And more. There is an- 
other thing to be suggested, as something to make 
your prayers earnest and real. It is, that you should 
habitually ask that in all your prayers you may be 
directed, inspirited, elevated, composed, by the 



JO Restraining Prayer. 



Blessed and Holy Spirit. Remember St. Paul's 
words : c The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities : 
for we know not what we should pray for as we 
ought : but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for 
us with groanings that cannot be uttered.' c Groan- 
ings that cannot be uttered ! 5 In the light of words 
like these, what shall be thought of formal and 
heartless prayers ? I do not say — far from that — 
that prayer should be boisterous or excited ; but, 
surely, dictated and inspired by the Holy Ghost, it 
will always be solemn, earnest, and real. Feel 
what you are doing when you pray, and it will be 
all that! Head and heart will together be kept 
right by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And 
earnest prayer is just the best result of the Christian 
heart and mind. So do you, my friends, in every 
prayer, go to God through His Son and by His 
Spirit ; and thus life and reality will be infused into 
your prayers. 

Just a word of practical counsel. Do not make 
your prayers too long, any more than too short. 
There are minds which are not capable of being 
long kept up to the bent of real prayer to God. 
And it will only distress, and disappoint, and harm 
such, if they try to force themselves to more than 
by their nature they can bear. Better a short prayer, 
with all your heart in it, than a long one with wan- 
dering thoughts and a flagging spirit. I remember 
well how a poor lad in my former parish, dying of 



Restraining Prayer. 71 



consumption, told me he feared he must be very bad, 
because in his extreme weakness he could not bear 
the Bible read to him for more than a few minutes, 
and could not pray but in a sentence or two. I 
never forgot how his anxious face brightened when 
I told him that it was with him just as it has been 
with many of God's people, the spirit willing, but 
the flesh weak ; and that in his debility God had 
cut him off from long prayers, just as God had cut 
him off" from long walks, by denying the strength 
for either : that 4 if there be a willing mind, it is 
accepted according to that a man hath, and not 
according to that he hath not.' Only do you see to 
it, my friends, that it is not the want of will, the 
lack of heart and interest in it, that shorten your 
prayers. 

And another word : in your closet prayers, it is a 
good thing to' utter your prayer aloud. Say it in a 
low but articulate voice, putting your petitions into 
distinct words. Your attention will be less likely 
to wander. And you will know better what it is 
you are really saying to God. Not many minds 
have the power of thinking connectedly, unless they 
put their thoughts into words. And as to meditate 
does with many people mean to think of nothing, so 
the unspoken prayer is apt to degenerate into no 
prayer at all. 

Now, Christian friends, let us ask the Holy Spirit 
of God to make us remember these things which have 



J2, Restraining Prayer. 



been said, in so far as He approves them. If there 
be anything amiss with any one here this day : if 
any one here be anxious or desponding, not growing 
in grace, not conquering the evil tendencies of his 
nature, sometimes murmuring and fretful, sometimes 
unthankful and rebellious ; then the great likelihood 
is, that the root of all the mischief is the neglect of 
prayer. For if our prayers were real \ if they were 
hearty, humble, and frequent \ such as the Inter- 
cessor above would join in, such as the Prompter 
within would inspire ; then how the evil that is in 
us all would sink down abashed, — then how every- 
thing holy and happy in us would grow and flourish ! 
My friends, let us, by God's grace, c give ourselves/ 
like the Apostles, c continually to prayer ; ' let us 
4 pray without ceasing ;' let us c pray everywhere 
let us c be careful for nothing ; but in everything, by 
prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let our 
requests be made known to God;' and so 4 the 
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, 
shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ 
Jesus.' 



V. 

TRUE WORSHIP. 

* God is a Spirit : and they that worship Him must worship Him 
in spirit and in truth.* — St. John iv. 24- 

TT was our Saviour Himself who said these words : 
their authority is beyond all question. They are 
words of interest at all times, for they give us the 
great law of acceptable Christian Worship. They 
are words of special interest at this present time, 
when, for good or evil, a more than ordinary concern 
has spread through a large class in this country as to 
forms and modes in the public worship of God - % 
attended, in some cases, by a strong desire for 
certain deviations from the simple worship which 
has hitherto been, generally, characteristic of the 
beloved Church of our fathers. And it will not do 
to explain the desire, in certain quarters, after richer 
and more stately services, by the mere levity of 
minds ever given to change -> and more heedful of 
the outward ritual of God's worship than of its 
spiritual essence. For it cannot be denied, that on 
entering the churches of some at least of our most 



74 



True Worship. 



devoted, most faithful, and most judicious ministers, 
you will find certain changes in the service to which 
we were all accustomed as children, which are 
sometimes stigmatized by the unfriendly name of 
Innovations -> and you will remark, in the sacred 
buildings themselves, an architectural pomp and 
grandeur far removed from the homeliness of the 
ordinary Scotch parish church. And while a 
minister of the Church > not long since laid to his 
long rest in our grand churchyard, who, while he 
lived, was, in some respects, perhaps the first and 
ablest of all our Church's ministers,* deliberately 
published to the world his conviction of the ad- 
vantage and necessity of still further changes ; a 
lay Elder of the Church, second to none of her 
Elders in weight and wisdom, a righteous judge, 
and a devout Christian, + has yet more recently fol- 
lowed with the public expression of views in some 
points substantially the same. Surely, at such a 
season, it will by God's blessing be profitable for us 
all, to turn back to the infallible authority : to open 
our Bibles, and look there what is the teaching of 
the Holy Spirit as to that worship and service which 
can never be worthily rendered unless by His grace 
and help. Vital things, and things of the last 
moment to every poor sinful creature that looks for 
salvation through Christ, — things like that we may 

* Dr. Robertson, Minister of Glasgow Cathedral, 
•j- Lord Kinloch, in his Studies for Sunday Evening. 



True Worship. 



expect to find told us in our Bibles so plainly and 
clearly, that every one may understand and know, 
who brings an honest and teachable heart to the 
reading of his Bible. Now, surely, the way to serve 
God acceptably, is one of these vital things. May 
He lead us at this time to the clearer remembrance 
and deeper feeling of a great truth we all know 
well \ and have known for many a day. Just such 
are the truths we most need to have impressed upon 
us by the grace of the Holy Spirit. We do not 
need now to be told anything new : we need to 
have old truths, taught us in childhood by those who 
are gone, carried home to us by His irresistible 
demonstration. And such an old familiar truth is 
it, that 4 God is a Spirit : and they that worship Him 
must worship Him in spirit and in truth/ 

And there is the sum of the whole matter : the 
grand principle of all true worship. The law of 
acceptable Christian worship is briefly this : that it 
must be the worship of the heart. Not of the voice 
merely : not of the hands merely : not of the bended 
knees merely : not of the decorously and compre- 
hensively expressed prayer merely : not of the 
sweet incense merely : not of the lamb slain and 
burnt on the altar merely: not of the gorgeously- 
arrayed High Priest, nor yet of the simply-robed 
Scotch minister merely : not of feelings touched by 
old memories of our own departed days, and of those 
who used to worship with us long ago, but who 



76 



True Worship. 



will worship with us on earth no more : not of any 
or all of these things merely — but of the heart. 
Now all this looks so simple, so obvious, so 
exactly the teaching of sound common sense, that 
possibly enough some of us are ready to think it 
was hardly necessary that Christ should tell us so. 
Who, in his senses, could ever think anything else ? 
But we fancy this, just because this saying of our 
Lord, and other sayings like it, have so leavened 
our ways of thinking, have so grown into us, that 
we fancy the thought is our own, while in truth 
it is due here. And we sometimes take our 
Redeemer's words and fancy we are trying them 
by the standard of our inner consciousness, for- 
getting that they (in great measure) made that 
consciousness, and that we really cannot say now 
what we should have thought a/id been but for 
them. Now, though no doubt the Old Testament, 
Moses and the Prophets, ought to have taught 
him better, it is likely enough that our Saviour's 
words in the text would fall very strange and new 
on the ear of the average Jew. Likely enough, he 
thought that if he worshipped in the right place and 
according to the prescribed form, that was all that 
was wanted. Likely enough, he thought that if he 
went and offered his lamb, or his turtle-doves, or 
his fruits, it did not matter what kind of heart he 
had in him when he presented himself before God : 
what wishes, affections, purposes, thoughts, were 



True Worship. 



77 



present in the unseen sphere that is behind the de- 
corous face and the reverent demeanour. Likely 
enough, he thought all that ; for we all know how 
ready Christian worshippers have often proved to 
think just the like things in their changed circum- 
stances. But however practically we forget it, we 
all feel how sound and reasonable is the great law 
under which we live as regards God's worship ; and 
we all know, too, in a general way, what it is that 
is meant by worshipping Him c in spirit and in truth.' 
When Christ said these memorable words, he said 
them to a poor woman who had come to fill her 
pitcher at Jacob's Well ; but our Lord took for 
granted that she would know quite well what He 
meant ; and no doubt she did. I think that even 
the youngest here need have no difficulty in under- 
standing it. To worship God c in spirit and in truth,' 
is just that in worshipping God, in praying to Him, 
thanking Him, praising Him, you are to mean what 
you say and do, and do it heartily. Just as a boy, 
learning his lesson, if he is to do any good, must do 
it heartily, must give his mind to it : just as a man 
at his work, hand-work or head-work, if he is to do 
it well, must do it heartily and with a will ; so when 
w T e enter our closet and shut the door, and pray 
to our Father who is in secret, or when we enter 
into God's house and worship Him there (for the 
rule is precisely the same for public and secret 
worship), we must give ourselves to the work : I 



/8 



True Worship. 



say not that we must fix our attention on it : that 
needs not to be said — though how sadly often we 
all fail and sin here — but we must put our heart 
into it ; pray, and thank, and praise, with real pur- 
pose and intention ; collect our thoughts and stir up 
our affections ; and really mean the thing we say 
and do. We must rise above the mere outward 
decorum, though that is all well in its place, to 
something; higher — something- far, far above and 
beyond the calmed face and voice, the attitude of 
humility, the words, few and chosen, even the peace- 
ful kindly feeling with which we desire to enter on 
the exercise of worship ; rise to the very act of de- 
votion, of true communion with God, of pouring 
out the burdened heart to Him, of drawing near to 
Him, and feeling that He is drawing near to us. 

Oh, that the Blessed and Holy Spirit of all 
prayer would enable us to understand all this better, 
and to experience it more habitually ! 

I do not say that we have certainly failed to 
worship God as our Saviour commanded us, when- 
soever we fail to reach that glow of fervent and 
elevated devotion, in which the believer humbly but 
unhesitatingly recognizes one of the excellent gifts 
of the Holy Ghost. Warm feeling, whether reli- 
gious or merely sentimental, comes more naturally 
to some souls than to others ; and the composed, 
even mind, that has little experience of any rapture 
of devotion, may not the less be living a life of 



True Worship, 



79 



prayer and praise. We have, by God's grace, 
done what the text requires, when we know that 
our worship has been a real thing, done from the 
heart, even if we have to go away somewhat dis- 
appointed and sorrowful, having sought our Saviour 
sorrowing and not found Him. More than this : 
we may have worshipped in spirit and in truth, 
when we had humbly to confess that our heart was 
cold and our thoughts wandering, and that we 
could not pray as we ought and as we desired. 
Doubtless that confession, penitently and sorrow- 
fully made, was acceptable prayer. Not comfort- 
able, but still acceptable prayer. For all prayer 
that is sincerely offered through the Redeemer, and 
with petition for the prompting of the Blessed 
Spirit, is most assuredly acceptable prayer. Not 
always with equal peace and joy and relief : not 
always with equal heartiness : not always with 
equal assurance that his prayer is being heard : yea 
sometimes with a blank feeling of weariness and 
disappointment, the believer may draw near to God 
and seek to worship Him. But if our hearts are 
true to themselves, we can make sure of always 
worshipping in spirit and in truth. Doubtless we 
shall often fail to do so. But the fault will always 
be in ourselves. 

So far, my friends, our course has been plain. 
There can be no doubt at all that we, worshipping 
God, must worship Him in spirit and in truth j and 



8o 



True Worship. 



very little as to what that means. But will the 
text guide us farther ? Does it tell us what style of 
worship is likeliest to be in spirit and in truth ? 
Does it go farther, and tell us that some certain 
kind of worship is the only worship that can be in 
spirit and in truth ? Does it tell us anything that 
may help us to decide between people who want a 
very simple ritual and people who want a more rich 
and showy one ? Many of you know that this 
text has oftentimes been quoted as if it declared in 
favour of shabby churches, bad music, and a bare 
and bald worship. This text has been adduced to 
show that ministers should not wear gowns and 
bands ; that stained glass in church-windows is sin- 
ful ; that choirs are Popish ; that Glasgow Cathe- 
dral ought to have been pulled down ; that it was 
well to ruin a nobler Cathedral much nearer at 
hand, I do not mean to say that intelligent people 
would say that my text shows this ; but I do say 
that I have heard all these things seriously said. 
And even in the minds of people of quite other 
understanding, there is a vague impression that 
my text decides in favour of a very simple wor- 
ship ; and makes it at least doubtful whether 
such worship as the Choral Service of the sister 
Church is not a terrible way of spending the 
Lord's day. But let us not add to our Redeemer's 
words. This is a volume to which we dare not 
add, and from which we dare not take. This text. 



True Worship. 



says just nothing at all as to any specially authorized 
kind of worship, simple or ornate. It leaves that 
question entirely open, to be decided by considera- 
tions of holy expediency, of national taste, and the 
like. The text just tells us that God's worship is 
to be spiritual and real ; it leaves it to men, in the 
exercise of the faculties God has given them, and 
through experience of the working of their own 
minds, and of the minds of others, to find out what 
kind of worship is likeliest to be so. And it does 
not follow, of necessity, that a very simple worship 
is to be the most spiritual and hearty. To some 
minds it may be so \ while others may find that it 
is easier to worship in spirit and in truth, with the 
helps of a stately worship and a noble church. 
And each, as before God, must find what suits him 
best. And neither has any shadow of right to con- 
demn the other. You and I may very fitly and 
f sincerely own the purity of worship presently 
authorized and practised in this church,' being per- 
suaded c that the said worship is founded on the 
Holy Scriptures, and agreeable thereto \ 9 while yet 
we do not venture to condemn the very different 
worship of other Christian communions as one whit 
less scriptural or spiritual. We dare not say that 
Christian people who kneel at their public prayers, 
pray less acceptably or sincerely than we who stand ; 
or that Christian people who stand as they receive 
the elements in the Holy Communion, receive them 



8 2 True Worship. 

to less comfort and nourishment than we who sit. 
But we dare to say, that such outward variations in 
form are of infinitely little importance, if only the 
soul, as before God, is worshipping Him in spirit 
and in truth ! The hour now is, we know from 
our Lord Himself, wherein * the Father seeketh 
such to worship Him.' Such as c worship in spirit 
and in truth ; ' not such as make postures and 
forms to be of the essence of their worship. To 
say that our simple worship is evangelical, is to 
say what is most true. But to say that^ as though 
conveying that it is so exclusively ; that no other 
worship is evangelical ; and that worship grows 
less evangelical with every detail by which it varies 
from our accustomed type, is as untrue as it is 
uncharitable. We believe that our worship is 
right ; but we do not venture to say that every 
other worship is wrong. 

So you see, my friends, that all the length the 
text takes us is just this : that our worship 
must be sincere and hearty. Let our worship 
be simple as it may, if the heart be in it, it is ac- 
ceptable to God. And let our worship be elaborate 
and ornate as it may, if the heart be in it, it is no 
less acceptable to God. The question between the 
worship in the parish church of St. Andrew's, and 
the worship in York Minster, or Westminster 
Abbey, is not touched by my text. We can find no 
infallible inspired authority to tell us that any one 



True Worship. 



83 



kind of worship is exclusively right, exclusively 
spiritual, exclusively evangelical. 

And yetj looking to the whole teaching of Holy 
Scripture, and weighing the matter in our own best 
judgment, we may, perhaps, arrive at certain 
principles for our guidance as to the external cir- 
cumstances most favourable to true and spiritual 
worship. For doubtless external circumstances 
have something to do with the attainment of devout 
feeling in our hearts. If we were what we ought 
to be, whenever we seek to draw near to God in 
His worship, we should forget outward things ; we 
should be raised above them ; and feel as though 
alone with God alone. Everything beside would 
vanish ; and we should be conscious only of the 
awful fact, that we are standing face to face with 
God, and asking Him to attend to what we say and 
do. But then, we must deal with ourselves, not 
as we ought to be, but as we are. And being 
what we are, we all know well, that outward things 
do greatly affect our inward mood and feeling. 

Now, probably all intelligent Christian people 
would be agreed to go as far as this : that we are 
doing only what is right when we remove, so far as 
we can, all distracting circumstances ; all outward 
hindrances to spiritual worship. And you all know 
how a custom, I believe universal in this country, 
testifies to the general consent to this principle I have 
stated. We close our eyes when we offer prayer* 

G 2 



84 



True Worship. 



Christian people in private, and the minister who 
leads the public devotions of God's house, do thus, for 
the season of prayer, shut out the sight of the things 
and people around them. Yet nobody fancies that 
there is any virtue in closing one's eyes when in 
prayer : that is not the reason why the thing is done. 
We do it, because thus we are less likely to have 
our attention distracted from the act of prayer ; we 
can better concentrate our attention on the solemn 
work of prayer. We want to get rid of a tempta- 
tion that might call our mind off from the spiritual 
duty. And surely we are quite right in escaping 
from what would be a hindrance. Well, is it not 
quite right to escape, w T hen we can, from any other 
outward hindrance ? Suppose a thorn had run deep 
into your flesh, causing much pain ; keeping you 
from putting all your heart into your prayer ; taking 
off your mind from your prayer ; would it not be 
most proper that before beginning your prayer, you 
should get that thorn out, that thus, with undivided 
attention, you might give yourself to the act of 
worship ? No doubt, brethren, many a hearty prayer 
has been offered by souls into which the iron had 
entered deep ; the thorn in the flesh, or in the spirit, 
has brought many a one thrice, and far more than 
thrice, to the throne of grace ; but still we say that 
it is not God's purpose that we should endure the 
thorn from which we can honestly deliver ourselves. 
Well, do not we all know,, that there may be many 



True Worship. 



85 



little outward circumstances which distract us from 
our worship just lik? the thorn in the hand or foot ; 
and which in like manner we may fitly try to 
remove ? To people with a musical ear, the inexpres- 
sible badness of the singing in too many churches 
is a most painful hindrance in worship ; and surely, 
while we are thankful for the decorous praise in our 
own church, we must all sympathise heartily with 
that scheme of the General Assembly which pro- 
poses to improve the service of praise throughout 
Scotland, till it shall become a help and cease to be 
a hindrance. And just the same may be said as to 
not a few of our parishes, where the neglected and 
discreditable church, and the general lack of care 
for the lesser details of God's service, are to men 
and women of cultivated mind a most jarring hin- 
drance in the way of concentrating the thoughts 
on God's worship. You all know how it takes 
away from the comfort and profit of a Commu- 
nion Sunday, if the day is one of rain and storm, 
and communicants come to the Lord's Table 
drenched, and physically uncomfortable. And we 
may very fitly select a season for the Communion, 
when the prospect is of fair weather ; and very fitly 
pray (if it be God's will) for a calm and pleasant 
day. Let us frankly recognise the fact, that little 
outward annoyances, notwithstanding the most 
earnest prayer for the presence of the Blessed Spirit, 
may greatly abate spiritual enjoyment ; and that 



86 



True Worship. 



neglect of external decency and order is to very 
many a great hindrance in the way of worshipping 
in spirit and in truth. Surely, then, it may be 
accepted as certain, that it is fair and right to carefully 
remove whatever may hinder and distract us in our 
worship of God. We need not deliberately go and 
try to worship at a disadvantage. We may well 
provide that everything, every arrangement, about 
God's house, shall be seen to with scrupulous care ; 
that nothing may come jarringly across our devotion ; 
that the decorous church, the decent praise, the 
simple and devout prayer, the manifest reverence 
attending all the service, may afford no temptation 
to unbefitting thought or feeling. 

But now we come to a much more difficult 
matter. All will agree in the propriety of removing 
hindrances to worship : but how are we to think on 
the question of helps in worship ? There are those 
who say that to rise to the highest pitch of devotion 
they must have the sublime Gothic vault, with the 
dim religious light of storied windows : they must 
have the pealing organ, the choristers in white, the 
magnificent music of choral prayer and praise. 
And who that has ever shared in that inexpressibly 
noble worship, but must have been constrained to 
think that truly this seemed like the house and like 
the service of Almighty God : here indeed men 
have rendered Him of their very best ! Still, my 
friends, I cannot but say that here we enter upon 



True Worship. 



87 



perilous ground. A factitious excitement, arising 
from the gratification of taste and sentiment, may 
be mistaken for the spiritual worship of God. The 
enjoyment of noble architecture and music is not 
worship, and may be mistaken for it. The hush 
which falls on us, walking the aisles of a church of 
eight hundred years ; the thrill of nerves and heart 
as the glorious praise begins, whose echoes fail amid 
fretted vaults and clustered shafts ; all that feeling, 
solemn as it is, has no necessary connection with 
worshipping God in spirit and in truth. And we 
may delude ourselves with the belief that we are 
offering spiritual worship, when it is all a mere 
matter of natural emotion, which the most godless 
man could share. Now, thinking of all this, who 
can pretend to lay down any rule ? That which is 
a real help to one is a choking hindrance to another. 
Let each, before God, judge what is right and good 
for himself. No doubt we are all so made, as to be 
much affected, often towards what seems better, by 
outward scenes and things. The thoughtful calm 
of the summer twilight, — the stillness of the autumn 
woods with their fading leaves, — the old remem- 
brances about the church where your father and 
mother worshipped, — all these things waken feelings 
not necessarily sacred, yet sometimes a help towards 
such as are certainly so. And the people who are 
keenest against the help of architectural and musical 
pomp, would yet think it quite legitimate to enjoy 



88 



True Worship. 



the help, the great outward help, of a crowded and 
sympathetic congregation, — of the great hearty 
mass of voices, blended in a psalm remembered 
since we remember anything, and of interesting 
and attractive preaching. Yea, the very Holy 
Communion, feeding on Christ though it be, would 
to many of us hardly look like itself, if you broke in 
upon the dear old way, — if you took away the 
white cloth from the tables, or changed the old 
familiar psalms. Now in all these things we are 
availing ourselves of outward helps. Then you may 
remember how that good man Philip Doddridge, in 
that admirable book which has furthered the Rise 
and Progress of Religion in very many souls, tells 
us how, in offering his private prayers, he found 
that outward circumstances were helpful to him, 
and worth the attending to : tells how he prayed . 
more heartily when his room was somewhat dark- 
ened, the light shaded, and when he uttered his 
prayer in a low yet audible voice. One of the 
most conspicuous of the clergy of what is called the 
Evangelical party in the Church of England,* has 
lately testified to the spiritual good he got, against 
all his prepossessions and expectations, by daily 
attendance at the worship of a cathedral church. I 
have heard one of the best of Christian men and 
ministers, one of the same school in the same 
church, say that he found it a great help, in writing 
* Dean Close of Carlisle. 



True Worship. 



8 9 



his sermons, to look at a picture which hung opposite 
to his table, in which a great painter had sought to 
represent the face of Our Saviour. Some may not 
understand this ; but who will venture to blame it ? 
On this question of aids in devotion I can say no 
further, than that each Christian must, as before 
God, judge for himself. No man, here, can be a 
standard for another. Only remember, that here 
you are on dangerous ground. You may fancy 
you are worshipping in spirit and in truth, when 
you are doing no more than enjoying a sentimental 
excitement, fruitless and unprofitable. 

You see 5 then, how much is left to our own 
better judgment, as to the way in which we shall 
worship God. The details and accessories are 
not authoritatively fixed by God's Word. We are 
not told whether we are to kneel at prayer or to 
stand y whether we are to stand at praise or to sit ; 
whether we are to have organs or to forbid them ; 
whether we are to have a liturgy or free prayer. 
These are small, very small matters : matters with 
which no wise minister would willingly vex one 
humble Christian heart : matters as to which no wise 
minister would urge his own views and likings, in 
the short space better given to the preaching to his 
fellow-sinners of the unsearchable riches of Christ. 
Truly it is sad that such little things should 
separate Christian people, at one on all things vital, 



go 



True Worship. 



What we have to do, is to see 'to it, that by 
the grace of God's Blessed Spirit we ever worship 
in spirit and in truth. That is the only counsel, as 
to God's worship, which I venture to address to you 
from this place. In addressing that to you, I am 
sure that I am right ! We blame not those who 
feel that some change in outward forms would bring 
them nearer to that great end, for saying so ; nor 
for seeking by fair means to reach what they desire. 
For ourselves, even though aware that the worship 
of our Church may be capable of change for the 
better, — like all human things, — we may well be 
content with the simple forms under which better 
Christians were content to live and die. And, oh, 
my friends, let not all this present controversy 
about the non-essentials of worship, cause us to 
forget the great vital and essential thing ! Pray 
that in our closets, in our families, in church, and 
everywhere, we may worship Him who is a Spirit, 
in spirit and in truth ! 



9 1 



VI. 

CHRISTIAN LOVE. 

c We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love 
the brethren.' — I John iii. 14. 

IF any one of us had lived at Ephesus, that fa- 
mous city of Ionia in Asia Minor, in one of 
the last years of the first Christian century, and 
thus had enjoyed the great privilege of knowing the 
beloved Apostle John,, no doubt such a one would 
have got many good advices from the kind old man. 
But there is one advice in particular which, if we 
had known him, we should most certainly have got 
from him, and that not once but many times. It is 
the solemn and kindly counsel which is suggested 
by my text, that Christian people should love one 
another. As you doubtless know, that is the strain 
that pervades these three Epistles of St. John. I 
might have found not one text, but many, that 
would have brought before our minds the subject of 
discourse this afternoon, in these inspired chapters. 
In the verse which stands the third before the text, 
you may read, c For this is the message that ye 



92 



Christian hove. 



heard from the beginning, that we should love one 
another.' You know, earnest men have their 
special vocations : subjects that lay hold of them, 
and possess them ; subjects they feel impelled to 
speak about, and about which they can speak more 
heartily than of all others. There are Christian 
ministers who feel that some special doctrine, some 
special aspect of Gospel truth, comes home to them 
as nothing else does : and accordingly that grows 
prominent and characteristic in their preaching. A 
good man once said that foremost with him among 
Christian graces stood that of repentance : that if 
he died in his pulpit he hoped it might be while 
preaching repentance ; and if out of his pulpit he 
hoped it might be practising repentance. Others 
have had a like feeling as to saving faith : others as 
to Christian liberality in giving : others as to the 
great duty and help of prayer : while some have 
found that it never was so pleasant and cheering to 
set forth the unsearchable riches of Christ, as when 
telling of the blessed work of that Divine and Holy 
Spirit to whose special charge our Saviour has mean- 
time left His Church on earth. And an advantage 
which Christian people have in a great city above 
Christian people in a country parish, is^ that they 
can attend the church where they find the instruc- 
tion come most really home to them \ suit their 
special character and bent and circumstances best. 
For though Christ's Gospel is always the same in 



Christian Love. 



93 



its vital essence,, yet it has its several aspects in 
which it best commends itself to individual con- 
sciences and hearts. 

Now St. John the Apostle had his strong indi- 
vidual bent. He had his favourite subject, to which 
he was never weary of going back. He had a 
kindly nature : we naturally speak of him as the 
Beloved Apostle ; for something about him had 
gained the distinguishing human affection of our 
Blessed Saviour Himself; and as Judas goes down 
to all ages with the black mark at his name, 4 which 
also betrayed Him •> 9 so round St. John's kind face 
there is such a glory as painter never drew, and 
round his c memory' there is breathed a fragrance 
that makes it indeed c blessed ' beyond the common 
c memory of the just,' in the mention of hirn as 
c the disciple whom Jesus loved.' St. John was 
the very man to understand how great a thing love 
is in Christian duty. It was he who had recorded 
in his Gospel, how our Saviour said, c This is my 
commandment, that ye love one another, as I have 
loved you.' We feel how cordially he would have 
agreed with St. James, saying, c If ye fulfil the 
royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love 
thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well : ' and how 
cordially with St. Paul, saying, c Now abideth faith, 
hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.' 
Thus the strain of St. John's Epistles is to bid 
believers c love one another : ' and this, we know, 



94 



Christian Love. 



was the tone of his preaching too. And when an 
old man, too old to walk or stand, or to say anything 
longer, with the weight of near a hundred years on 
his head, with sixty-five long years between him 
and his last sight of his Master's face below, he sat 
in his chair at Ephesus, he was accustomed to say 
to the congregation of Christian people at that place, 
4 Little children, love one another.' He was an 
old man, and he could not say much ; but here 
was the sum of Gospel duty. Do that, he seems 
to say, and you will do well ! 

You can see, from several things in that first 
Epistle — the General Epistle — that the Apostle was 
old when he wrote it. That repeated addressing 
those who should hear or read it as little children : 
a considerable degree of repetition, amounting even 
in some cases to tautology : and some measure or 
want of order in the saying what he has to say ; 
have been pointed to as indicating the kindly and 
fatherly authority sure to be willingly accorded to an 
aged Apostle ; and as indicating, too, that the Holy 
Spirit who guided St. John's pen, did here, as He 
did elsewhere, allow the characteristics of the writer 
to colour the inspired writing. Just as the fact that 
the Blessed Spirit inspired all Scripture, does not 
prevent our seeing that one part was written by a 
better educated man than he who wrote another part, 
or by a man of specially logical head, or by a man 
of specially vigorous intellect, or by a man of specially 



'Christian Love. 



95 



bold imagination, or by a man of special warmth of 
heart ; so that fact does not hinder our seeing that 
this Epistle was written by a fatherly man, writing 
with a father's authority to people who would receive 
what he said in the spirit in w T hich he meant it ; and 
so anxious that those he was addressing should 
lay his words to heart, that he was resolved that 
if one telling were not enough, they should have 
another, 

So much as introduction to our special subject, 
which is Christian Love. Never was there a more 
practical subject. The old commandment, to love 
one another, concerns every one here present ; every 
one who desires to lead a Christian life, and to 
spend eternity with the Redeemer. Still, c love is 
the fulfilling of the law.' The text tells us it is a 
testing thing, whether we are believing people or 
not. 6 We know that we have passed from death 
to life, because we love the brethren.' Our Saviour 
said, c By this shall all men know that ye are My 
disciples, if ye have love one towards another.' € A 
new commandment I give you. That ye love one 
another as I have loved you.' You remember our 
Lord's words also, c Thou shalt love the Lord thy 
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and 
w r ith all thy mind : This is the first and great com- 
mandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two 
commandments hang all the law and the prophets.' 



9 6 



Christian hove. 



And c in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth 
anything, nor uncircumcision ; but faith which 
worketh by love. ? My friends, these things are not 
out of date ; though if we judged by the life of 
many professing Christians we might think them 
so. Neither are these things matters of metaphysical 
theology, about which it is very proper that we try 
to clear up our minds, but which have no bearing 
upon the life you and I are living here, just as these 
weeks of March are going over. All this concerns 
us at every step of our way : in all our conversation 
with the people we converse with ; it has some- 
thing to say as to the tone of the lightest gossip : it 
has something to say as to the tone of our most 
solemn prayers. The command, in a true sense to 
love one another, and the abounding temptations to 
do just the opposite, concern us in this city, in this 
early spring of 1866, just as much as they did the 
people at Ephesus in the year 98, when the com- 
mandment was uttered so often by the failing voice 
of St. John. Fresh, to-day, like the crocuses rising 
through the mould ; fresh, to-day, like the buds of 
faint green upon the trees \ stands the little-realized 
and much-broken law of Christian love ! 

Now let us think, why did the beloved Apostle 
insist upon this duty so often and so strongly ? 
Why does this tone so run through all his Epis- 
tles, specially the first and longest, — that Gene- 
ral Epistle^ — which means an Epistle addressed 



Christian Love. 



97 



to whom it may concern, — that is, among others, 
to all of us here ? 

We have already said that the subject suited St. 
John : there was that in his whole nature w T hich 
made him feel how important and happy was the 
duty. 

But more than this : he knew it was a vital 
thing, that all Christian people should attain to some 
measure of this grace. It was a testing thing, our 
text tells us. Do you desire to know whether you 
may confidently, though humbly, cherish the good 
hope through grace that you are numbered among 
Christ's people — justified and renewed ? Here is 
the way which has led believers before you to some- 
thing beyond a good hope, — even to a full as- 
surance. c W e know that we have passed from 
death unto life, because we love the brethren/ To 
that simple issue St. John is content to bring the 
entire question as to how he stands with God. If 
that be right^ then everything is right. It was the 
index that registered how everything else was : even 
as the pulse at the wrist can tell the skilled observer 
something as to how all the functions of material 
life are going on. There is something amiss about 
the soul that has no love. If the presence of a 
grace shows that everything is right, its absence 
must surely show that something is wrong. c The 
fruit of the Spirit is love,' says St. Paul. Can the 
Spirit be dwelling effectually in the human being, in 

H 



9 8 



Christian Love. 



whom the very first-mentioned of the results of His 
presence cannot be found ? 

More than this. Sometimes the index that 
registers a great thing, is itself but a little thing. 
The tremendous pressure on the boiler of the loco- 
motive is indicated by an ascending and descending 
drop of water in a little glass tube. The state of 
hundreds of solid miles of atmosphere is revealed 
to us by the movements of a slight pointer upon 
the dial of the barometer. But this testing-pulse 
of the soul is not a little thing- that indicates a great 
one : it is a great thing in itself. We have been 
reminded, in inspired words, how as love to God 
sums all our duty to God, so does love to our 
neighbour sum all our duty to man. In this you 
have the essence of the second table of the Ten 
Commandments. Upon the two, c hang all the law 
and the prophets.' And so, when to the failing 
strength of the great Apostle, every word was an 
effort, he did not try to set out a long array of little 
directions how to treat our fellow-men in this or that 
contingency. There was not time nor strength for 
these. And St. John fixed on one great principle, 
that would keep everything right. He gives one 
stout cord, as it were, on which all social duties 
might be threaded, — c Little children, love one 
another ! ' 

These things are plain. A very short mention 
of them is sufficient. And leaving them, let us 



Christian Love. 



99 



think whether St. John did not give this counsel 
so earnestly and so often, I say not to the Ephe- 
sians long ago, but from the inspired page to you 
and me to-day ; because he knew that it was, and 
is, and always will be, a difficult thing to c love the 
brethren/ to < love one another,' to c love our 
neighbour as ourselves?' There is something 
very wonderful, and not a little humbling, in the 
whole matter of human likes and dislikes, even in 
the case of really Christian people. Quite apart 
from all the right reasons we may have for dis- 
approving the doings and the character of those 
around us, a host of little contemptible feelings 
come into play to keep us from loving our fellow- 
Christians and fellow-men. A good man, by the 
help of God's Spirit, seeks to put these unworthy 
feelings down, and in some good measure succeeds 
in so doing ; but still they are there, and too many 
yield to them. What unworthy and causeless 
prejudices many people readily take up against 
persons of whom they know little or nothing ? 
How much more commonly is a groundless esti- 
mate of a fellow-man an unfavourable one, than a 
favourable ? There are those who are disposed 
vaguely to dislike a man or woman, just because 
they know nothing at all about them ; or just be- 
cause they have heard them kindly spoken of by 
somebody else. How many vague aversions and 
dislikes are wiped away, just by coming to see and 

H 2 

L. 8F C. 



100 



Christian hove. 



know the person that was disliked ! I have heard 
a man say, c Well, I had a great prejudice, some- 
how, against such a person \ but I have come now 
to know him, and I find him a most worthy man ! ' 
Why had you the prejudice? one naturally thought, 
but because it is so hard to obey the Saviour's 
command, reiterated and reiterated by His beloved 
apostle ! Then there are people who dislike a 
man because he is successful in life \ they cannot 
forgive him that: and indeed there are folk to 
whom any excellence, any success, any eminence, 
anything well done, in man or woman, will make a 
most unpardonable sin, and a most personal offence. 
There are unworthy men who, even to middle age, 
cannot regard but with a dislike, which they them- 
selves must know is wicked and despicable, those 
who greatly eclipsed them when students at col- 
lege. Then there are those who regard with 
dislike, and even with bitter hatred, any one who 
gets what they wanted and did not get. Alas ! my 
brethren, we must sorrowfully confess, that envy, 
hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, have a 
strong hold on many human hearts : have too ready 
access to all ! In fact, there is hardly a circum- 
stance in a man's character, history, or position, 
which may not cause him to be disliked by some 
one. Well might St. John repeat and repeat 
his lesson of Christian love ; it is not an easy one 
heartily to learn. Well might St. Paul say, c The 



Christian Love. 



101 



fruit of the Spirit is love : ' for love is not the 
natural growth of man's sinful heart and soul. 

Yes, Christian friends, there are many feelings 
and tendencies in poor sinful human nature that 
must be held tightly in check, before Christian 
people will succeed in loving one another. A'lany 
human beings find it much easier to feel a general 
dislike to those with whom they come into anything 
like competition, than to feel anything like love 
towards them. Many human beings dislike any- 
body who can do anything better than themselves ; 
who is rich, while they are poor ; who reaches 
a higher social standing ; who gives any such 
wretched ground of offence. Till God's Spirit 
quite renews our sinful heart; till God's Spirit takes 
the ruling of heart, speech, and life into His own 
Almighty hands ; Christians will always find that the 
desire of pre-eminence ; that remaining self-conceit 
not yet mortified enough ; that the tendency to 
hasty and uncharitable judgment ; that the sense 
of possessing a power to say sharp, clever, and 
cutting things (which is to some a great temp- 
tation) ; that all these things make it very hard to 
heartily obey the great command, to c love one 
another ! ' 

And now let us think what it is that is really 
required of Christian people in these days, in this 
country, in this very artificial state of society, amid 
these separations of class from class, by this great 



102 



Christian Love. 



Gospel command, to c love the brethren/ to c love 
our neighbour as ourselves/ to * iove one another.' 

Now, in interpreting such directions, we may 
take two things with us. One is, that God's ser- 
vice is always a c reasonable service : ' that there is 
never anything extravagant in what Christianity re- 
quires of us : that our holy religion, among other 
things, is ever characterised by sound common sense. 
Another is, that when God gives us a law, He 
always gives us one that is accordant with the nature 
and constitution of the souls He has given us. God 
never tells us to do anything, which, by the grace 
and help of the Holy Spirit, we may not make some 
good approach to doing. 

In the light of these things, we can see what is 
the love God requires us to bear to our fellow- 
Christians and fellow-creatures. Of course, it is 
not the kind of love which human beings can feel 
only towards those whom they know well, and whose 
engaging qualities make them lovable and loved. 
The love you feel for a person you know, must be 
quite different from the love you can feel for a per- 
son you know nothing about, except that he is a poor 
sinful, sorrowful, dying creature like yourself. Yet 
who is there that does not see, that there may be 
such a thing as a general kindliness of nature and 
temper, prompting (as occasion arises) to kind words 
and deeds ? Who is there who does not know, that 
there have been and are Christian people who (by 



Christian hove, 



103 



God's grace) have attained to c loving the brethren :' 
yea, to c loving all men ? ' Do you not feel that 
when that good Samaritan had compassion on the 
poor wounded man lying in the road to Jericho, and 
went to him, and bound up his wounds, and set 
him on his own beast, and brought him to the inn, 
and took care of him, — do you not feel that the 
kind deed was just the outflow, the expression of 
the kind heart within, and that he had indeed come 
c to love all men,' who was ready to care for just the 
individual man that needed his care ? Yes, the kind 
outward deed was the natural expression of just that 
general inner kindliness which Our Saviour requires 
in all His children \ and which is ready, waiting for 
the needs and sorrows even of the human being it 
never saw nor knew. It is not so with us, my 
friends ; grown-up people lose that sharp discern- 
ment of character : but sure I am that little children, 
those unerring physiognomists, if they had seen the 
good Samaritan jogging by on his ass, would have 
needed no more than to look on his kind face, to 
know that he was the man they might ask to help 
them out of anv little trouble : the man who would 
soon be to them (as to everybody) a familiar friend ; 
they would not be surprised at all, when they heard 
how he cared for the poor man he found dying by 
the wayside ! Why, you know how well a heathen 
poet attained to some view of the Christian universal 
kindliness, when he wrote words that were heard 



J04 



Christian hove. 



with the loudest applause that ever echoed through 
a Roman assemblage of thousands : c I am a man ; 
and I feel that I have something to do with every 
human being ! ' 

Yes, the thing is quite intelligible ; and the thing 
can be done ; to love our brethren in Christ, to love 
all men. It will appear in a readiness to c do good 
to all, as we have opportunity ; ' to have a hopeful 
and cheerful word for such as need it ; to have a 
charitable interpretation of things said and done by 
others ; to make the best of people, not (as some 
do) the worst. You see, St. John does not tell us 
that we are all to think exactly alike ; nor to per- 
suade ourselves that those things are of no conse- 
quence about which we cannot agree. St. John 
does not say to us, c Tell a man you think him right 
when in fact you think him wrong ; ' or c Tell him 
you think him good when you know him to be bad.' 
That is not what is meant by Gospel love towards 
all. No ; it means. See a man's faults and failings, 
and bear with him. Hold your opinions strongly, 
yet agree to differ, without quarrelling, from those 
who think just the opposite way. Be ready to help 
a poor overburdened creature to bear his burden; and 
a sympathetic word will go far here. Try to think 
kindly and forbearingly of those we think in error. 
Allow for their temptations, burdens, and cares. 
Try to put yourself in their place, and see whether 
it might not be too much for you. Do not dwell 



Christian Love. 



upon and exaggerate the faults of your friends ; 
rather try to see something good in them ; and if 
you try hard, you may perhaps find a good deal. I 
speak, of course, of the little failings which are 
common in Christian folk, little weaknesses and 
follies. I do not speak of glossing over great sins. 
There are offences against God and man which cut 
off from our sympathy, which make us think of the 
Psalmist's words, c Do not I hate them that hate 
Thee ! ' I speak of the ordinary run of professing 
Christian people, not of wolves and tigers of the 
race. I speak of unchristian dislikes and jealousies ; 
not of that retributive justice which, before God 
and man, condemns and wipes out the offence 
and the offender. 

And thus restricting the consideration of the duty 
to the cases in which we, here, are likely to be 
tempted to break it ; let us remember, my friends, 
that we must watch ourselves in little things, if we 
would obey this great Gospel command of brotherly 
love. Let us obey the commandment unostenta- 
tiously : let us beware of frittering away our 
obedience to it by a multitude of little, hardly 
thought-of sins. We do not ask for a great parade 
of gushing geniality to all God's creatures : not un- 
justly, that kind of thing is looked at with some sus- 
picion of its sincerity. But besides that general kind- 
liness of which we have already spoken, let us mark 
the little things in which Christians are found to 



ro6 



Christian Love. 



fail in obedience to the law of love. You know 
it is very easy, and it sounds smart, to dwell, in 
conversation, upon the faults and follies of the 
people you know : to exaggerate these, and dwell 
on them with weary iteration. If you ask some 
Christian people about any friend, you are sure to 
hear something not at all to that friend's advantage. 
There is a mighty bent, in some folk, to show an 
acquaintance in the light of a silly, ignorant, and 
bad person : any little folly of which the acquaint- 
ance has been guilty, vou never hear the end of. 
Now, my friends, never have anything to do with 
that wretched ill-set tattle. Do not join in it : do 
not listen to it. It is not for you to whom God (as 
you trust) has forgiven the debt of ten thousand 
talents, to be raking up the sad details of your 
neighbour's little debt of a hundred pence ! For- 
give, as you hope to be forgiven. Love your 
neighbour, because Christ loves both him and 
you. 

My friends, do not think these small ways of 
breaking the great law of love. It is really, for the 
most part, only in these ways you can break it. We 
are not tempted to very crying crimes. And do not 
think it a small thing to join in ill-natured gossip, 
going to show that this or that neighbour is a fool 
or worse. You know when the first Christians 
died the martyr's death, rather than offer sacrifice 
to idols, what was it they were called to do ? Why, 



Christian Love. 



107 



the whole thing was to take up a pinch of incense 
with their finger and thumb, and throw it into the 
fire on the altar of Jupiter or Minerva. But that 
little act signified that they apostatized from Christ, 
and so they died rather than do it. And even so, 
what a light, an awful light, is cast on little unkind 
sayings and doings, when we call to mind St. John's 
solemn words, 1 We know that we have passed from 
death unto life, because we love the brethren ! ' 
Train yourselves to bring the whole force of your 
religion to bear upon this matter: the thing is vital! 
St. John says elsewhere, 6 Whosoever doeth not 
righteousness is not of God ; neither he that loveth 
not his brother.' 

You see, my friends, that in speaking to you of 
this great law of love, I have been careful to avoid 
anything like high-flown sentimentalism, or grand 
views of a philanthropy that is quite beyond the 
reach of ordinary Christians. My desire has been 
to bring this matter home to our own hearts in its 
solid reality, as something that concerns each of us 
in all our intercourse with our fellow-men, at every 
hour of every day : something that concerns the 
manner in which we are to think of people when by 
ourselves, and to speak of them when in company 
with others. It is only in humble degrees that we 
have it in our power to obey this great law : it is 
only in little unworthy ways that we are likely to 
be tempted to break it. Yet it is not by training 



io8 



Christian Love. 



ourselves to calm ways of thinking, to looking at what 
may be said in mitigation of our neighbours' failings, 
and to thinking oftentimes of our own, — it is not by 
means like these that we shall bring ourselves to 
obey the law of Christian love. All these are well 
indeed ; but the great thing is to pray continually 
for the grace of the Holy Spirit ! It is He, con- 
stantly sought, and humbly waited for, who will 
calm down the acerbities of nature ; who will help 
us over our little prejudices and dislikes ; who will 
help us to feel kindly towards Christian people of 
other communions ; who will carry it home to our 
hearts, that all whom Christ loved and died for, may 
well be loved by us, who were once alike in sinful- 
ness and helplessness, and are now (as we trust) 
washed in the same atoning blood, and sanctified by 
the same Blessed Spirit. 

Let us humbly pray, then, that that gracious and 
kindly Spirit, who in other days gave Christian 
people gifts which now He gives no more : — pro- 
phecies which have failed, tongues which have 
ceased, knowledge which hath vanished away ; — 
may give us, and keep in us, while we live, and 
when we die, that better gift, that holiest grace, of 
love that shall endure for ever ! 



i op 



TO 

THE BLESSING CURSED, 

c And I will curse your blessings.' — Mal. ii. 2. 

A I A HERE is something very remarkable, and 
very awful, in these words. God is threat- 
ening that He will inflict a great punishment upon 
certain men who have offended Him ; and among 
other threats we find this ominous and extraordinary 
one, c I will curse your blessings.' He does not say 
that He will take their blessings away ; He will let 
them remain, only with His ban upon them, and 
see what they will be worth then. He does not 
say that He will send direct plagues and miseries 
upon these guilty persons ; that would be, in the 
comparison, a coarse and inefficient mode of in- 
flicting punishment. There is something far more 
awful about such a judgment as that threatened in 
the text. It is one which only the Almighty could 
carry out. If you were to offend a powerful 
human being, he would try to punish you by taking 
away from you the favours and benefits he was 
before accustomed to bestow upon you ; or perhaps 



no The Blessing Cursed. 



he would try to punish you by inflicting upon 
you positive pain and suffering. These are man's 
ways of punishing ; this is the length man's anger 
and man's power can go. The text shows us a 
way of punishing which is God's only. He^ too, 
sometimes punishes sinners by taking away their 
blessings ; and sometimes by sending positive 
plagues. But in the text He threatens something 
different. The blessings shall remain, but they 
shall remain scathed and blighted. They tell us 
that there is an eastern fruit which sometimes 
undergoes a curious process of decay. It looks as 
blooming and fresh as ever to the eye, but when 
you take it in your hand it crumbles into dust. 
Now, a like process was to pass upon all the com- 
forts and advantages, all the treasures and delights, 
of these doomed men. God would not cut down 
their families, nor would He wreck their fortunes, 
nor would He ruin their health, nor would He put 
them down from their eminence of station. No, 
all these things should remain. The home should 
keep all its former comforts, the income should 
remain steady and ample, neighbours should be 
kind, children dutiful and affectionate. Yet, 
though nothing would be changed, all things should 
become new. The soul would be gone from all 
comforts and enjoyments. And all these things 
which we commonly call good things, should com- 
municate no happiness, and should tend to no good. 



The Blessing Cursed. 1 1 1 



A tree may be withered, you know, without being 
cut down. The spring may continue to flow as 
brightly as ever, but we may have lost the relish 
for it. Some kind of work may be just what it 
used to be in itself, but we may not be able to feel 
any interest in it. And such thoughts may cast 
some light upon the meaning of the strange and 
mysterious threat, c I will curse your blessings ! ' 

As we think upon this text, we can discern two 
different shades of sense in which we may under- 
stand it. We see two ways in which a blessing 
may be cursed. We see two ways in which a 
blessing may substantially remain with a man ; and 
yet grow worth nothing, and even less than no- 
thing. In the first place, a blessing may be said 
to be cursed when it loses the power of making us 
happy, or when we lose the power of enjoying it 
(which means the same thing). And in the second 
place, a blessing may be said to be cursed when it 
comes to have an evil tendency upon the mind and 
heart of the man who has it. Thus wealth, which 
is a good thing in itself, becomes a blessing cursed 
and neutralized, if it lead a man to forget his de- 
pendence on his God, — if it make a man haughty 
and irreligious. Let us follow up these two 
thoughts. 

(i.) In the first place, blessings may be said to 
be cursed, if God deprives us of the power of en- 
joying them. 



112 The Blessing Cursed. 



You all know well that when a blind man looks 
at the most beautiful scene, he sees nothing of it. 
The blue of the sky and the green of the earth, to 
him are one great blank. And when the sweetest 
music is awakened around the deaf man, he knows 
nothing of it ; to his ear all sound is silence. Now 
just as our outward senses are aware of sights and 
sounds, in like manner our souls have their senses 
(so to speak) which take note of pleasure and pain. 
In the natural state of a healthy human mind, it 
feels pleasure and happiness when it is surrounded 
with those things we call blessings. Worldly bless- 
ings have a natural and great power to make a man 
cheerful and happy. There is no mistake about 
this ; we all perfectly well know it. It does tend to 
make any one pleased and cheerful when his cir- 
cumstances are prosperous, and his friends kind, 
and his home comfortable, and his character re- 
spected. But in one moment, God can make an 
end of all this. In one moment, without changing 
in the least our outward aspect, or our outward 
circumstances, God can make our souls as incapable 
of feeling happiness in the possession of our out- 
ward blessings, as the blind man's eyes are of dis- 
cerning the light of day. He can leave us 
surrounded with earthly blessings, heaped up and 
multiplied , and yet make sure that we shall never 
know one easy hour, one moment's enjoyment of 
them ; amid them all, He can make us moody, 



The Blessing Cursed. 



"3 



depressed, thankless, miserable beings ! And how 
often does God do this ? Who are the people who 
are most vexed and weighed down with that strange 
gloom, that unaccountable sinking of the spirits, 
which makes all outward blessings so heartless and 
useless ; who, but just those who possess the 
greatest abundance of these same outward blessings ? 
The labouring man toils all the day, and comes 
home with a light heart to his plain evening fare ; 
and though his worldly provision is fixed for no 
longer than the next half-year, and his daily bread 
depends upon the standing out of his strength for 
daily labour, still he has not a fear for the future, 
but sleeps soundly and undisturbed : while many 
a man, a thousand times better off, is weighed down 
with ceaseless anxieties and cares ; or even in cir- 
cumstances so affluent that care can hardly be felt 
even by the most morbid mind, feels that all his 
wealth and luxury leave life a joyless, weary thing. 
And we say that the threat denounced in the text 
is executed ; we say that a man's blessings have 
been cursed ; when they continue about a man to all 
outward appearance precisely as before, but the 
man can feel no pleasure in theiru A rich man's 
wealth is cursed, when it remains as entire and as 
well invested as ever ; but cannot keep its owner's 
heart from being racked by fears that he is to end in 
the workhouse. And such a case has many a time 
been. The noble dwelling and the princely domain 

1 



H4 



The Blessing Cursed. 



are cursed blessings, when a man, after having 
spent a fortune in bringing them to perfection, finds 
that he can derive no pleasure from them after all. 
And I say, my friends, that there is something that 
should be most fearful to all ungodly men in the 
thought my text suggests, that God has such direct 
and immediate access to the soul — to that part in 
us where joy and woe are felt- — and that as He is 
able to make His own believing people happy in 
spite of all outward troubles and misfortunes, so He 
can make His enemies wretched, although sur- 
rounded by every outward blessing and advantage 
that heart can wish. It must be something inde- 
scribably awful for a worldly soul to think, that it is 
absolutely in the power and in the hands of One 
who by a word can make it poor though in the 
midst of wealth, chilly though in the midst of com- 
fort, despairing amid the most hopeful prospects, 
wretched with all the appliances of pleasure and 
happiness at its beck. It is a bitterer thing, it is a 
sorer punishment, a thousand-fold, to curse a bless- 
ing than to take it away. It is always a sad thing 
to starve - 3 but saddest of all to starve in the midst 
of plenty. It is not so hard a thing to shut one off 
from drinking at the stream, as to let him do it, but 
make him as insensible to its refreshing waters as 
the pebbles over which they run. And I am sure 
that when you reflect a little, many instances will 
come into your minds, of men in whose case it 



The Blessing Cursed. 115 



would seem as if God had executed this dark, 
mysterious threat : as if God had allowed the out- 
ward blessing to remain, but as it were taken out 
the soul of it : as if God had (to speak so) given 
the water, but forbidden it to quench the thirst ; 
and the food, but laid a ban upon it, so that it should 
not appease the cravings of famine. You will 
readily call to mind one sad exemplification of 
this, in a great but unsanctified genius : one to 
whom God had given youth, health, rank, fortune, 
fame : yet whose beautiful writings are crowded 
with the melancholy evidences how these blessings 
had been cursed : how satiety had made him loathe 
them all, and left him sullen and joyless among them 
all. You will remember how he has spoken of 
c that weariness which springs from all we meet, 
or hear, or see : ' of c that settled, ceaseless gloom, 
the fabled Hebrew wanderer bore, which will not 
look beyond the tomb, but cannot hope for rest 
before.' Where shall we ever find a more com- 
plete example of blessings not removed but cursed, 
not cut off but soured into gall, than when a man, 
surrounded with earthly blessings, writes in such 
words as these ? — 

My days are in the yellow leaf, 

The fruits and flowers of love are gone : 

The worm, the canker, and the grief, 
Are mine alone ! 

Ah, my brethren, who will dare to provoke the 

I 2 



1 1 6 The Blessing Cursed. 

wrath of that Almighty Being, whose slightest 
touch, laid in anger upon our souls, can make them 
able to draw only venom and bitterness from every 
gift He Himself can impart ? 

(2.) In the second place, blessings may be said 
to be cursed, if God suffers them to have an evil 
tendency upon our souls. 

It is a truth which we may very readily gather 
from Holy Scripture, that all God's dealings with us 
are intended for something more and further than 
the mere enjoyment or suffering of the time. 
And, in particular, we know explicitly what is the 
bearing and purpose of all our blessings. We know 
what they were meant to do by God. St. Paul 
writes to the Romans, c The goodness of God 
leadeth thee to repentance.' And repentance, as 
it is the first step in the great change that is called 
conversion, is no doubt here taken to mean the 
whole work of turning from sin and self-confidence 
to God and Christ. It thus appears that all the 
blessings which God bestows upon us are sent with 
a specific purpose. They have all a natural ten- 
dency ; and this tendency, generally expressed, is 
to lead men to think seriously about their souls, and 
earnestly to turn to Christ. Whether our blessings 
actually produce this effect or not, there is no 
question at all that this is what they are meant 
to do. God's goodness — that, is, His kindness. — 



The Blessing Cursed. 



n 7 



manifested in all the blessings He sends us, ought 
to fill us with love and gratitude towards Him ; and 
to make us turn away with utter detestation from 
that sin which is the abominable thing God hates. 
When we sin, we give the plainest of all proofs 
that we do not love God : we do God all the harm 
we can. To be sure, neither our goodness nor our 
evil extends to Him ; but we show, by sinning, all 
the will, if we have not the power, to dishonour 
Him and His law and His salvation before the uni- 
verse. But, returning from this, we repeat that all 
the blessings God gives us are meant to serve a 
purpose besides the mere making us comfortable 
and happy for the time. They are all meant to 
leave their traces upon our soul — to benefit us 
spiritually. But it is possible they may have quite 
an opposite effect : they may do us harm spiritually. 
They may make it more and more unlikely — they 
may even make it impossible — that we should find 
our home in Heaven at last. And whenever this 
comes to be their tendency and results, then we say 
that God has cursed these blessings. Their effect 
has come to be just the opposite of what it is in a 
healthy state of things : their impulse is reversed. 
But in order to bring this out more plainly to your 
minds, let us glance over some of the chief blessings 
which men can enjoy, and see how their tendency 
may be reversed, in such fashion as that we may 
say they have been c cursed.' 



1 1 8 The Blessing Cursed. 



Take first that whole mass of earthly blessings 
which are implied by the words wealth and comfort. 
What is the right and healthy tendency of all these ? 
Why, they should make us deeply thankful to Him 
who gave us them all. They should impress us 
with a heart-felt sense of our obligation to God who 
hath made us to differ from multitudes of our fellow- 
men ; with a heart-felt sense of our own great un- 
worthiness of receiving so much kindness \ with an 
earnest desire to employ all that has so kindly been 
given to us for God's glory and the good of our 
fellow-creatures. This, we say, is the healthy and 
right tendency of worldly comforts and blessings. 
But then we know very well that the actual result 
of them is often very far different. We know that 
oftentimes wealth tends to make its possessor proud, 
arrogant, overbearing ; to make him fancy that he 
himself is as much better than his fellow-creatures 
as his circumstances are better than their circum- 
stances. We know that wealth oftentimes is found 
to make its possessor idle and useless, selfish and 
vicious ; and that even when its effect is not so 
grossly evil as this, worldly comfort sometimes en- 
grosses too much of the thoughts and affections of 
the heart $ and the c deceitfulness of riches ' chokes 
the good seed of religion within. When all goes 
well with a man, instead of this making him humble 
and thankful, and c leading him to repentance,' the 
effect is often to make him utterly worldly, — 



The Blessing Cursed. 119 

utterly forgetful that there is another life, — utterly 
forgetful that a part in Christ is the c one thing 
needful.' And we know, too, that very often men 
with no worse hearts to begin with than their neigh- 
bours, — men who, under the wholesome restraints 
of a humbler position, might have made decent and 
reputable members of society, being born to what 
we commonly reckon the blessings of rank and 
fortune, have availed themselves of the immunity 
thus afforded them to run riot in every kind of 
profligacy and folly, and have towered to a bad 
eminence among the most foully bad. Now, in 
such a case as this, we say the blessing was cursed. 
In all cases where God's blessings do other than 
c lead to repentance,' and make men the better for 
them here and hereafter, we say these blessings have 
been cursed. By some fatal mistake they have im- 
pelled in the wrong direction. They should have 
drawn towards Heaven : they have driven towards 
perdition. 

And it is easy to think of other earthly blessings 
which may be in like manner affected. Think of 
the blessing of dear friends, and of a happy family 
circle. What a blessing the proud and happy father 
feels his bright and amiable and clever boy is ! 
What a blessing the mother thinks the loving little 
child that nestles on her knee ! Should not such 
blessings tend to make their possessors thankful to 
a kind God 3 hourly conscious of how completely 



] 2,o The Blessing Cursed. 



they depend upon Him ? But are not even such 
pure blessings sometimes cursed ? Is it not so, that 
oftentimes the erring heart makes an idol of the 
creature, and sets it between itself and its God ? 
Ah ! bereavement, in its sorest form, is sometimes 
a most needful discipline and blessing ! Or, again, 
health : what greater worldly blessing than that ? 
Yet may not even this be cursed too ? Surely it 
has been cursed, when it leads a man quite to for- 
get death and eternity ; when it leads him to regard 
his neighbour's death with some little feeling of 
superiority ; some forgetfulness that his turn will 
come too ! And, in such a case, the true blessing 
would be to break down that vigorous constitution, 
to check that blood that mantles so brightly in the 
cheek, to take off the strong man from his daily 
work, that goes on so evenly month after month ; 
and to lay him on the bed of languishing, where he 
may bethink him solemnly of those great concerns 
which are so readily forgotten in life's busy and 
healthful days. And, in short, unless all worldly 
blessings tend to fill us with deeper gratitude and 
love towards God, and so with deeper repentance 
for that sin which is foul ingratitude against Him : 
unless all this be so, what are they but blessings that 
have been cursed : blessings whose tendency is to 
evil, and not to good : blessings which will blacken 
a man's guilt, and aggravate his doom? 

But the subject growt invested with a solemnity 



The Blessing Cursed. 121 



yet deeper, when we think how spiritual blessings 
may be cursed. There is a class of spiritual bless- 
ings which we commonly call the c means of grace/ 
because their design and tendency are to lead the 
soul into a state of grace ; but these means of grace, 
we know, may have their tendency so completely 
reversed as to become means of condemnation, of 
guilt, of perdition. It is a blessing, and a great one, 
to have, the Gospel faithfully preached to us: it 
ought to waken us out of indifference, it ought to 
fan the smoking flax, and edify the advanced be- 
liever : Sunday by Sunday, it should rub off the 
rust of worldliness that has gathered on the soul 
through the working days of the week, and keep 
the armour of the Christian soldier always bright 
and clear. But though it may be, and ought to be, 
thus a c savour of life unto life," it may be also a 
c savour of death unto death.' This blessing may 
be so fearfully cursed that it may only harden the 
soul, and make it less likely ever to receive good 
impression : this blessing may have its tendency 
so fearfully reversed, that, instead of saving the soul, 
it may aggravate and intensify its final ruin ! Re- 
member what Christ said of the cities that had seen 
His mighty works, yet not repented. Remember 
what He said of the cities which should reject the 
Gospel salvation, offered by the first preacher of 
the cross : c Verily, it shall be more tolerable for 
Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than 



\22 The Blessing Cursed. 



for these cities ! ' The place where you will find the 
most hardened and hopeless souls, is not the hea- 
then's palm-covered shed, where the name of Jesus 
never was breathed : it is rather the church where 
the Gospel is most faithfully and forcibly preached ; 
and so where, if rejected, it has been the most wil- 
fully and recklessly slighted. It is where much has 
been given that much will be required : it is where 
privilege has most abounded that guilt is deepest, 
should that privilege be mis-improved. And, oh ! 
it is a thousand- fold worse that this blessing of light 
against which we may close our eyes, of knowledge 
which we may sin against, of mercy which we may 
trample under foot ; a thousand-fold worse that this 
blessing should be given and cursed than that it 
should not be given at all ! And so it is with all 
those spiritual blessings which we call the means of 
grace : their natural and healthful tendency may in 
all cases be reversed, so that they shall turn to means 
of hardening and of destruction. There is the Word 
of God : it is c given by inspiration of God,' and 
it is c able to make wise unto salvation : 9 but not 
only is it a blessing and a privilege which may be 
slighted, and so which may involve in deeper guilt : 
not only may this blessing be cursed in the case of 
the man who leaves his Bible unread upon the shelf, 
and so shuts his eyes against light from Heaven : but 
we know that this blessing has sometimes been even 
more signally cursed : we know that Holy Scripture 



The Blessing Cursed. 123 



may be read in such a light or in such an unbe- 
lieving spirit, as that the unhappy reader shall see 
in those majestic and gracious words which have 
comforted so many bleeding hearts, and directed so 
many doubting, only the matter for his profane 
ridicule, or for his sceptical sneer : as that even the 
beautiful and compassionate story of our Redeemer's 
life and death, shall be only something to pick holes 
and detect flaws in : as that even Christ's pure 
character shall be something to' seek or to make 
failings and defects in. Ah ! how sorely has the 
blessing been cursed whenever this is so ! When the 
Bible has been the thing concerning which a man con- 
trived to be more specially guilty : when a man has 
actually got c the word of life ' to speed him down- 
wards to death eternal ! And so with prayer : what 
a blessing that ought to be ! — leave to go to God 
through Christ at any time, and tell Him all we feel 
and all we need. Yet this blessing of communion 
with the Almighty may be cursed like the rest. It 
may turn to our condemnation that we had the 
throne of grace to go to, yet never went : or that 
when we did go through some form of prayer, 
it was with the cold heart and the wandering 
thought: so that we did but mock the Searcher of 
Hearts ! 

But, before we conclude, let us think, humbly 
and with awe, of further and grander blessings which 
may be cursed into impulses towards evil and 



134 The Blessing Cursed. 



destruction. We can all think of one great bless- 
ing : so very great, that Christ thought that its 
presence with His disciples might make up even for 
His absence : I mean the regenerating, comforting, 
sanctifying, Holy Spirit of God. And what a mighty 
blessing Christ's people can testify that that is ! 
Something to waken us up from nature's dead dream 
of spiritual unconcern : something to convince us of 
our sinfulness, and make us feel our need of Christ : 
something to show us the way to Him, to lead us to 
Him, to help us to lay hold upon Him with a living faith : 
something to kill out the roots of bitterness in our 
hearts, and to make all kindly Christian graces spring 
and flourish there : something to comfort us under all 
life's sorrows : something to strengthen us for all life's 
duties : something to warm the heart for prayer, and 
then to dictate the words of prayer : something so to 
work upon us, so to affect all things round us, as to make 
us meet and fit for Heaven at last ! What a precious, 
universal, pervading, far-reaching blessing ! And can 
this blessingbe cursed too? Can this sweet stream be 
soured into the water of bitterness ? Can this magnet 
that draws heavenward have its attraction reversed, 
so that it shall repel us towards destruction ? Yes, it is 
even so. This blessing can be cursed into an evil the 
most tremendous. If the influences of the Holy Spirit 
are resisted : if we harden ourselves against His 
gentle working, and determinedly grieve Him away, 
and quench Him : then this influence that God gave 



The -Blessing Cursed. 125 



to work our salvation, turns to something that not 
only tends to our final ruin, but (awful to think) 
actually makes sure of it. The same Spirit that 
melts one man's heart only hardens another man's : 
as the self-same fire melts wax, but hardens clay: 
the same Spirit that saves one man secures the 
eternal condemnation of anorher ; for to quench and 
grieve away the Holy Spirit when He would lead 
us to Christ, is the Gospel's one unpardonable sin : 
and this not by any arbitrary enactment of the 
Almighty, but just because this sin is, in plain words, 
finallv refusing to take salvation in the one only 
way in which God will give it, And so closely 
connected with this, and indeed with all we have 
been saying of spiritual blessings, is the last and 
chiefest we shall speak of, that it is hard to survey 
them apart. W hat was God's last best gift; what 
was His 1 unspeakable gift:' His grandest, all- 
comprehending blessing, that includes and brings 
with it every other blessing, from the greatest to the 
least r Oh, surely we need not sav, it was His 
own dear Son^ our own blessed Saviour Christ. 
Nothing else cost Him so much to give. Nothing 
else should ever be named even in the most distant 
comparison with this ; for this blessing is the root 
whence all other blessings grow ; this is what makes 
all other things to be blessings. Everything good 
either for this life or for the immortal one ; and 
everything good that since the birth of time men 



126 Tie Blessing Cursed. 



ever have enjoyed, or will enjoy till time is done 
with, or through eternity ; everything comes through 
Christ — everything we owe to Christ ; literally and 
without exaggeration, c Christ is all, and in all ! ' 
And can this blessing, which God in mercy and 
in love sent down to a sinful and a ruined world, 
to comfort men here, to save and bless men here- 
after ; can even this blessing, that is the source of 
everything good, turn to a cause of condemnation 
and woe ? Yes, it may ; the saddest doom to 
which a never-dying soul can be destined, is that of 
him who when Might hath come into the world, 
preferred the darkness who knew all about Christ 
and salvation through Him, yet rejected the offered 
mercy of the Gospel ; who had life and death fairly 
put before him — Heaven and hell given him to 
choose between — and who by deliberately rejecting 
Christ and Heaven, and eternal life, did as delibe- 
rately make his election of eternal death and eternal 
ruin. There are just two things, one of which 
Christ must be to each of us. He must either be 
our Saviour, or our condemnation. Now that we 
know of redemption through Him, we must either 
accept Him or reject Him ; and if we do not accept 
Him, God holds that we have rejected Him. He 
must be either an unspeakable blessing, or else a 
blessing cursed. He must either save us, or land 
us in ten-fold perdition. If we pass through this 
life, and pass out of it, rejecting Him, better for us 



The Blessing Cursed. \2J 



that we had lived where we never heard His name 
from the hour of our birth to the hour of our dying ! 

My friends, these are solemn thoughts, and 
practical ones. Of course, though this text, with 
its resolute setting of the most opposite of things 
side by side, does put the truth in what may be to 
some a new and striking light, yet, after all, it does 
but remind us of what we all knew before^ — that 
every good thing God gives us may be turned either 
to good use or to a bad ; and so that the blessings 
and privileges, which are our great advantages, — 
which should make us happy and holy, and lead us at 
the last to Heaven, — may be so abused, that they shall 
only make us guiltier, and so more miserable. And 
it is very plain, that the greater the privilege we had 
the opportunity of improving, the heavier our con- 
demnation if we let that opportunity pass unimproved 
away. When the talent is given us by God, we 
must either occupy it faithfully, or not ; and if we 
do not, then it is a blessing cursed \ — a means of 
grace blighted into a means of evil and ruin. Now, 
there is not a truth of which we may be more firmly 
assured than this : that the fault lies with you and me 
if that comes to be. Though the text speaks as it 
does to those unfaithful priests to whom it spoke 
first, and to us who hear it now, yet, in the most 
solemn fact, it is we ourselves that curse our bless- 
ings, if they are cursed at all. No one can do that 
but ourselves ; and God will never do it except as a 



128 



The Blessing Cursed. 



just punishment: He will never blight the blessing 
into a curse till we ourselves have already made it 
so. It is for us to say whether we shall improve 
the talent or not : the grace and strength will not 
be wanting if we have the will. Now you know, 
in your own experience, that both happiness and 
sorrow have a moral and spiritual tendency ; and 
that you may, under their pressure, choose whether 
you will go to right or to left. Job, you know, in 
his distress, found that there were two courses open 
to him —very different, but each perfectly natural. 
The tempter suggested the one : c Curse God and 
die!' But he took the other: Fell down upon 
the ground and worshipped ; and said, c The Lord 
gave and the Lord hath taken away : blessed be the 
name of the Lord.' And even so, everything that 
is happening to us, day by day, is tending some- 
where — our homes, our comforts, our Bibles, Sun- 
days, churches, prayers, are all tending either to 
make us better or to make us worse, tending to draw 
us to Christ or to thrust us from Him, tending either 
to bliss or woe. And we have our choice, as Job 
had : we have life and death to choose between : 
we may, under God's permission, say whether the 
blessings that come to us shall be blessings simple, 
or blessings cursed ; say whether God's goodness 
shall lead us to repentance, or puff us up with 
pride ; say whether God's chastening shall train us 
for glory and wean us from this world, or fill us with 



The Blessing Cursed. 129 



wrath, impatience, and rebellious despair. Now 
what is it that will make us say right ? What is it 
that will make us so receive God's dealings with us, 
as that all shall be blessings ? Only the constant 
presence in our hearts of the Holy Ghost, prompt- 
ing to constant watchfulness, and to never-ceasing 
prayer. That will make c all things work together 
for good' to us. That will make everything a 
blessing. And that, inestimable blessing in itself, and 
needful to our getting good from every other, — that 
presence with us of God's Blessed Spirit, we have 
but to ask that we may receive. Kneel down in 
your closet, alone with your Father which is in secret, 
and pray that the Holy Ghost may fill your heart ; 
and you may arise from your knees perfectly sure 
that if your heart be true to itself, you have got what 
you asked for. There are many things you may ask 
from God, of which He shall say that they are never 
to be : but ask for that blessed presence in your soul 
and you shall receive : seek that, and you shall find : 
knock, and it shall be opened to you ! 



K 



ISO 



VIII. 



THE BIBLE. 



i. 



6 Hcly men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy 



HAT is the Scriptural way of stating the great 



doctrine, that the Bible is inspired ; that the 
Bible is the Word of God. And you remark the 
grand simplicity and directness of the statement. 
The Confession of Faith has done well, in that it 
has followed the example of Scripture in this matter. 
It tells us, that c Under the name of Holy Scripture, 
or the Word of God written, are now contained all 
the Books of the Old and New Testaments : all 
which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule 
of faith and life. 9 There are matters, as you know, 
in which the Confession of Faith sets out Christian 
doctrine in very minute detail : but in dealing with 
the vital doctrine of the Inspiration of God's Word, 
it has wisely imitated the breadth of statement, 
the simplicity, the directness, of God's Word itself. 
c Given by inspiration of God,' says that venerable 



Ghost.' — 2 Peter i. 21. 




The Bible. 



standard of our Church : using, I need not tell you, 
the very words of Scripture. c Holy men of God 
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost/ says 
the great Apostle Peter. No doubt both these texts 
were written at the first w T ith special reference to 
certain portions of God's Word. St. Paul wrote 
that c All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,' 
at a time when the Old Testament was all that was 
understood by 'Scripture:' and St. Peter's words 
do particularly refer to the prophets, and what they 
foretold. But it needs only to be said, that these 
things are in their spirit written of the entire Bible ; 
and are so to be understood by us. And this being 
so, observe how general, simple, and large, the state- 
ments of both Apostles are. Equally so are all the 
statements the Bible contains as to its own divine 
authority and origin. It would be well if all Chris- 
tian people always dealt with God's blessed Word 
in the same reverent, teachable, earnest spirit. This 
is not the place for metaphysical subtleties or logical 
quibbles. It is far too grave, solemn, and vital a 
thing for these. And abundant experience has made 
it very plain, that no good comes of going into ex- 
act details ; or of trying to set out the rationale of 
what transcends our reason, — the way in which the 
Holy Ghost worked upon the brain, upon the heart 
and soul of men, so as to make their utterances or 
their writings in very deed the Word of God. Let 
us hold by this, and we shall be safe : that the 

K 2 



The Bible. 



Bible is indeed the Word of God : that it is God's 
message to us : that it contains truth without 
mixture of error : that it is the only infallible rule 
of faith and of life : that it contains everything 
needful for salvation : that nothing is to be added to 
it, and nothing taken from it. The Holy Spirit 
speaks to us in Holy Scripture : we can understand 
that : let us hold by that. How He does so is not 
revealed, and so we cannot tell. We will not go 
into those unprofitable and soul-wearying questions 
into which some would lead us, and which have 
occasionally been handled by men whom we must 
regard as orthodox, in a manner as mischievous and 
vexatious as they ever have been by the most un- 
sound of theologians : we will not be led into 
questions of degree and method of inspiration : we 
recognise no difference between the inspiration of 
this part of Holy Scripture and that. All Scripture 
is equally to be trusted to. All Scripture is equally 
God's message to you, and me, and all. We believe 
it all. We accept it all. In whatever mode God 
was pleased to inspire the writers of the many books 
which make the Bible, the result is that the Bible 
is God's Word, containing God's truth : and we 
may rely on all it tells us. As for the way in which 
this comes to be, we never can speak of it in words 
more certainly true as stating a theory, and probably 
we never can come nearer to the conveying of an 
intelligible idea, than when we keep by the safe and 



The Bible. 133 

true statements of Scripture itself ; and say, with 
St. Paul, that c All Scripture is given by inspiration 
of God ; ' or with St. Peter, that ' Holy men of 
God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost/ 
We are all well assured that the supernatural 
influences of that Divine Spirit do still, in every 
Christian man and woman, weave in with the 
natural workings of soul and mind, of heart and 
head. When the Blessed Spirit helps us to pray, 
He avails Himself of our natural faculties : of our 
memory, of our perception of things which may 
befall us, of our capacity of feeling, trusting, and 
loving. And thus, of the great number of prayers 
which we may humbly trust are every day prompted 
by the Spirit of all prayer, each differs, doubtless, 
from all the rest : each bears the impress of the 
nature, of the heart and mind, of the human being 
that offers it. The prayer is the prayer of the 
Holy Spirit : but it is also the individual and charac- 
teristic prayer of this man, of that woman, of that 
little child. Now, you know, it is exactly so with 
that higher, grander, and less lasting communi- 
cation of the Holy Spirit which God vouchsafed to 
the few among his servants, as with those com- 
moner gifts of the same Divine Being which are 
not for one age but for all time, and not for Apostles 
and Prophets only but for all saints. It is exactly 
so with that rarer gift which we call Inspiration, as 
with the sanctifying, comforting, prayer-prompting 



*34 



The Bible. 



communications for which ordinary Christians ask 
and look, day by day. You know how the in- 
spired writers of the Bible retain their individuality; 
and how, amid a singular central resemblance that 
makes us know a verse of the Bible when we hear 
it even if we are not familiar with the words, and 
that testifies to the common origin in the mind of 
the same Divine Spirit, we still mark each writer's 
idiosyncrasy : the whole tone of thought and feeling, 
and even the turns of expression, which are charac- 
teristic of him. St. Paul does not write the least 
like St. John : St. Luke writes quite differently 
from either, and St. Peter from all three. And 
yet, do you not feel, that there is a something which 
belongs to them all : and that belongs to each and 
all of the many men that wrote the Bible ? One 
Breath has breathed upon them, one Hand has 
touched them, all ! Moses, Job, David, Isaiah, 
John and Peter, Luke and Paul — there is a some- 
thing that they all have, and that no uninspired 
writer possesses one trace of. No one who knows 
the characteristic atmosphere of those pages, the 
fresh breeze that breathes upon us as we read our 
Bibles, will ever be mystified or perplexed by what 
you may find men say and write as to the identity 
of the genius of Shakspere for instance (to take the 
highest and first reach of man's own head and 
heart), and of David, of Isaiah, of St. John, of St. 
Paul. O brethren, it is a different thing here 



The Bible. 



135 



altogether ! Not that any sane person would put 
the case, as an ingenious American writer has, that 
David and Isaiah needed God's help to write, while 
Shakspere could do without it : not that any sane 
person doubts that all intellect and all genius are 
the gift of God : but that the inspiration of God's 
Word — God's Word that contains no error, that 
teaches nothing that is wrong, that could not pos 
sibly be imagined to exert upon men's hearts any 
influence but a healthful and good one, that speaks 
with authority upon all the solemn realities of time 
and eternity — is millions of miles away from mere 
human genius, often groping in the dark, often 
blundering into fatal error, often exerting an influ- 
ence the most baneful on those whom it influences 
at all, and at its very best drawing the better part 
of what light there is in it from the pages of the 
Bible, however indirectly or unconsciously. In a 
certain loose way, we may speak of the inspiration 
of the poet, the orator, the painter : and it would 
be mere pedantry to quarrel with a phrase so well 
understood in the main. But never forget, that 
differing not in degree but in kind — differing essen- 
tially, vitally, altogether — is the true, holy, divine 
inspiration of the men who wrote the Bible ; and 
concerning whom the great Apostle Peter certifies 
us, that c Holy men of God spake as they were 
moved by the Holy Ghost.' 

And we are to distinguish, likewise, between the 



136 



The Bible. 



supreme inspiration thus described, and the ordi 
nary and still-continuing gifts of the Holy Spirit. 
I believe, most sincerely, that many pages have 
been written by good Christian people, under the 
direction, and under the warming elevating influence, 
of the Holy Ghost. I believe that many a word 
has been wisely and kindly spoken in a moment of 
difficulty and perplexity, after an instant's silent 
prayer for the Blessed Spirit's guidance — spoken so 
wisely and kindly just because the Blessed Spirit 
quickened the memory, warmed the heart, prompted 
the right word at the right time. I believe there is 
no blessing that we are more sure to get from God, 
if we heartily ask, than the inestimable communi- 
cations — help, guidance, light, warmth, comfort, 
peace — of the Blessed Holy Spirit. I will say, 
indeed, that there seems to me something more 
than an error in taste in the usage of a small sect 
of excellent Christian people, whose members are 
accustomed to preface many very unimportant 
statements they make, by saying that c the Spirit 
moves them ' to say such and such things. It may 
be that they are indeed moved by the Blessed 
Spirit : but without a special miracle they cannot 
be sure that they are : and it was well said by a 
most acute divine,* that if any man were quite sure 
that the Spirit did move him to say anything, he 
might begin his utterance by saying, c Thus saith 

* Archbishop Whately. 



The Bible. 137 

the Lord.' In the main, if we ask the guidance of 
the Holy Spirit, we shall receive it. But any one 
who knows something of the prejudices, the biases, 
the passions, the sinfulness and foolishness of hu- 
man nature, -will be cautious of believing that any 
word or deed is truly prompted by the Holy Ghost, 
unless that deed, or word, be in very strict accord- 
ance with what we know for certain of His blessed 
mind from the more sure page of the written Word. 
But, returning from this digression, let me ask you 
to fix this in your minds : that there is a vital 
difference between those ordinary communications 
of the Holy Spirit, which convey no infallibility, 
which do not make it sure that he who receives 
them will never fall into error, or even into ,sin, 
and that higher and rarer gift of the same Blessed 
One, which gives God's authority and God's in- 
fallibility to the words spoken by man. I firmly 
believe, when I am told by one of the noblest and 
most single-hearted of all living philanthropists, that 
she never would speak in circumstances of difficulty 
or perplexity without a moment's prayer for the 
Holy Ghost's direction, — I firmly believe that the 
wonderful wisdom, fitness, and readiness with 
which she has many a time spoken comfort to the 
despairing heart and light to the perplexed, were 
indeed dictated truly by that Blessed and Wisest 
Director ; but still there is a wide and broad differ- 
ence between that guidance which you and I may 



r 3 8 



The Bible. 



get for the asking (God be thanked), and the true 
inspiration of those few among our race concerning 
whom St. Peter tells us that c Holy men of God 
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' 

And now, having said so much as to the nature 
of the inspiration of the Bible, let me suggest to you 
some thoughts upon God's Word generally. 

The Bible, remember, is the Word of God. It 
not merely contains the Word of God, as in some 
sense all things do — for c the heavens declare the 
glory of God ; and the firmament sheweth his handi- 
work : day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto 
night showeth knowledge ' concerning Him : and a 
great theologian* has made man's bodily frame tell 
us plainly many things as to the wisdom, goodness, 
and power of its A^Iaker : the Bible not merely con- 
tains the Word of God : it is the Word of God. It 
does not give us some grains of Divine truth, some 
messages really sent by God to man, amid a great 
mass of statements, proceeding from man's own wit 
and fancy : it is — all — God's truth and God's Word. 
It is the flower and crown of all God's revelation to 
man : everything that we can read, or fancy we 
read, on the pages of Nature or Providence, we find 
far more plainly stated in the Bible ; and we find a 
vast deal more. We find there things most need- 
ful to salvation, about which earth and sea and 

* Paley. 



The Bible. 



139 



stars are dumb. We find the message of salvation 
through a crucified Redeemer : we find how we 
may get the pardon of sin : we are told of that kindly 
Blessed Spirit, of whom is everything pure, and 
true, and good, and kind, that can be. found in 
human being ! Oh, sweep the heavens, and scan 
the earth ; look at trees and flowers, and beasts and 
birds : but what word will you find of such saving, 
cheering, priceless truths as these ? 

Even the lesser characteristics of the Bible are 
noteworthy. The very language of this blessed book 
is such as wonderfully suits its claim to be God's 
message to all races and tongues. The Bible bears 
translation into other languages as no other book 
does. It is at home, and at its ease, in all lan- 
guages. You never feel, reading your Bible, that 
you are reading a translation. You know how stiff 
and awkward most translations are ; and how vain 
is the endeavour, in most cases, even when made 
by the greatest genius and skill, to transfuse into 
any translation the spirit of the original. Take 
that most famous of all the mediaeval hymns, the 
world-renowned Dies Ires. Turn it literally into 
English. The whole spirit, and unimaginable grace, 
power, pathos, and sublimity of the Latin words 
are fled. And I have seen translations of it which 
truly made it ridiculous. Then I suppose all 
scholars are agreed that no translation can convey 
to you the tone and spirit of Plato, of Homer, 



140 



The Bible. 



of iEschylus. But it is little to say that our Bible 
has all the freedom of an original : more than that, 
the very spirit of the Hebrew words or the Greek, 
glows, melts, rouses, calms, in the English. David, 
Moses, Job, Isaiah, St. Luke, St. John, St. Paul, — 
they speak to us as they spoke to those who first 
read them, no whit of their power or character 
gone : and those of you who know these holy men 
only from your translated Bibles, may be well 
assured that you know them as they were. You 
hear it said, that there is no more remarkable miracle 
of skill than the language of our English Bible ; which 
is indeed the standard of perfection in our tongue. 
But there is something more in this than the in- 
dustry, tact, scholarship, of the translators. Surely 
it is, that when the Holy Ghost moved holy men 
of old to write God's message to all human beings, 
He moved them so to write it, — in such tongues, 
and in such words, — as would bear, as human words 
never did, to be rendered into the mother-tongue 
of every being who has speech and reason. • The 
same Divine Spirit who at Pentecost made the 
unlettered fishermen into the most accurate and 
wonderful scholars, giving them the power to go to 
any tribe on the face of the earth, and speak to its 
men and women freely in the tongue they knew 
best, and loved best ; surely He gave a gift of 
tongues as wonderful as even that^ when He made 
the holy men He inspired, — writing far from one 



The Bible. 1 41 



another in time and space, — writing in all circum- 
stances and in the most diverse styles, — yet cast 
their thoughts into such words as would go natu- 
rally and kindly into the speech of every human being. 

And then, how this wonderful Volume suits all 
men, in matters more vital than its language ! Said 
St. John, as though feeling how signal a testimony 
to truth is afforded by the fact that it is capable of 
being received by all sorts and conditions of men, — 
c That was the true light, which lighteth every man 
that cometh into the world.' Is it not so with the 
Bible ? It does not suit this age or that, this race 
or that ; it suits all ages and all races and all men. 
There are extraordinary national differences in ways 
of thinking and feeling : and extraordinary differences 
in such things between the people of different times 
and ages. An eminent writer* has put it on record, 
that after long study of early Greek philosophy, he was 
obliged to leave off with the conviction that, in those 
days, common sense had not been invented. And, in- 
deed, it is quite certain, that what the people of one 
century have esteemed as profound wisdom, the 
people of another century have rejected as absolute 
trifling and nonsense. In like manner, writings are 
thought admirably wise and weighty in Germany, 
which our ablest divines have held in'utter contempt; 
and we all know that statements have been regarded 

* Sydney Smith. 



143 



The Bible. 



as logical arguments in France, which people here 
would esteem as of no weight whatever. Then you 
know what difference there is in feeling, and the 
expression of feeling, between different races, — be- 
tween the wild demonstration of oriental grief, with 
its rent garments and its dust scattered on the head, 
its shrieks and cries, — and the quietness of grief 
in this western part of. the world, with its composed 
face, its few words, its silent tears. You can com- 
pare, too, the silent enjoyment of peace and rest 
and holy communion, with which a good Christian 
here covers his face and muses at the holy table, 
with David's manifestation of the like spiritual 
elevation by that frantic dancing before the Ark of 
God. That which would seem to us exaggerated 
and ridiculous, seems all quite fit and natural to 
people of a more demonstrative race. And yet, 
this wonderful Book, dealing as it does throughout 
just with religious faith and feeling, suits man 
wherever you find him : comes home alike to 
eastern and western nations : never gets out of date : 
never is outgrown bv the increasing intelligence of 
educated men : contains not a sentence that even 
those who like it least can call nonsense : and ex- 
presses no feeling in which all Christian people can- 
not sympathise ; — or, if its spiritual elevation does 
sometimes transcend our sympathy, then we know 
that the fault is our own, and that the feeling is one 
with which we ought to sympathise. And if we be 



The Bible. 



143 



believers in Christ in any good measure, how this 
blessed book, inspired by One who knows us and 
understands us thoroughly, — how it suits all our 
moods, all our circumstances ! In every state of 
thought and feeling, we find what we want in the 
Bible. There is not a thought or feeling that can 
arise in a believing heart, but what you can express 
it in some verse of some Psalm. If we are joyful 
or sorrowful, hopeful or desponding, weary or cheer- 
ful, turn over the pages of David, King and 
Psalmist, and there are the very words to set out 
what we feel ! c I have just one book,' said the 
poor disappointed genius : c but that book is the 
Best ! 5 May God grant that each one here, in 
every season that may come, may find that the in- 
spired volume is indeed all that to himself! 

And just remember, too, what is the secret of the 
Bible's so coming home to all. It is not a question, 
here, of those intuitions of moral truth, which, when 
we read or hear them, make us say, c Now that is 
true \ ' or even say, c We have often thought that 
ourselves, though we never heard it expressed be- 
fore.' It is quite true that pages which bear such 
things will make their way to many minds and hearts : 
but it is on a different footing altogether, that God's 
Book makes its appeal to us ! The Bible comes 
home to all, because it treats of great facts which 
we never could have found out; yet which, when 
told,, commend themselves, not to sensibility, not to 



144 



The Bible. 



taste, — not even to intellect merely, but to our con- 
science and heart ; to our deepest and most solemn 
convictions of what is divine and right and true ! 
It tells us that we are fallen, sinful creatures, — that 
our whole life is erjor, sin and shortcoming : and if 
our conscience be enlightened by God's Holy Spirit, 
we know that is true. It tells of salvation through 
Christ ; of repentance to Israel, yea to all, and the 
forgiveness of sins ; and if we have in any measure 
been enabled by God's grace to commit our souls to 
the Blessed Redeemer, then we know that is true. 
It tells us of the sanctifying and comforting com- 
munications of the Holy Spirit : and if we have 
ever heartily sought these, then we know that is 
true. It tells us that this is our pilgrimage : it tells 
us Where is our home : it explains the never- 
ceasing worries of this life, and the blank in- 
sufficiency of all things here, by saying that this 
is not our rest, and by bidding us seek our rest in the 
Saviour: and oh how solemnly true the assurance, 
and sound the counsel ! And through these things 
it comes to be, that wherever man is a poor sinful 
creature, anxious, careworn, sorrowful, disappointed, 
dvina-i — the Bible comes home to him as nothing: 
else can. Therefore it is that the little volume is 
the first prized possession of childhood, and eld 
people have it in their hands to the last : therefore it 
goes into the soldier's knapsack : therefore the aged 
statesman and judge would read it like a little child : 



The Bible. 



therefore you find it under the pillow of the dying, 
wet with tears. Therefore its blessed words we 
wish should be the last read by our weary eyes^ and 
heard by our ears soon to be deaf for ever. It is not 
genius, with its touches of nature, that does this : it 
is something higher. It is that in these words we 
have Almighty God's authoritative message to us 
for our salvation : it is that c Holy men of God 
spake' them c as they were moved by the Holy 
Ghost!' 

It sounds almost strange to us, in this Protestant 
country, to say, as if it needed to be said, that this 
inspired Book is safe to be put into the hands of all. 
It is not to be shut up in libraries, in the seclusion 
of its original languages : it is to be scattered broad- 
cast over the land, translated into the tongue in 
which every man can read it best. Of course, we 
know that there have been those who declared 
that this ought not to be done : that the Bible is a 
most dangerous book to be put into the hands of all 
comers, because it may be so terribly misunderstood, 
and indeed has been so terribly misunderstood. And 
true it is, that the Bible has been misread and mis- 
understood. It is like every good gift of God, 
capable of being abused. Even God's law, St. 
Paul tells us, was good, only if a man used it law- 
fully. And no one with the most moderate know- 
ledge of history will deny, that some of the 

L 



ia6 



The Bible. 



cruellest, wickedest, and foolishest things men ever 
did, they have pretended to justify on the authority 
of the Bible. The savage inquisitor, with his rack 
and his faggots : the absurd Puritan, with his sour 
face, his ridiculous name, and his outlandish phrases : 
the infatuated slave-holder, with his bloodhounds 
and his whips : each of these has quoted Scripture 
for his purpose ; nay, it was with a garbled text of 
the Bible that the Devil thought to tempt our Saviour 
to presumptuous sin. But it does not need to be 
said at this time of day, that the abuse of a thing 
is no argument against its use ; and though a man 
who has already made up his mind, and who reads 
the Bible with the purpose of finding that the Bible 
approves his views, may easily persuade himself that 
it does, — yet let us be sure that he who goes to God's 
Word in a teachable spirit, desiring honestly to find 
in the Bible not what he might like to find, but what 
God has said there ; and praying earnestly for the 
illumination of that Blessed One who inspired the 
Bible at the first, and is still its best interpreter ; 
will never be suffered to mis-read its meaning in 
anything vital. And though this Book has its diffi- 
culties — especially to people who seek for them — 
yet it sets out the way of salvation through Christ, 
and of holiness and comfort through the Blessed 
Spirit, in words that the most unlettered and the 
youngest may understand. There is many and 
many a page of God's Word which needs no note 



The Bible. 



cr comment to make its essential meaning plain and 
clear to a simple and docile heart. The Bible does 
not need the Church to explain it or to make it safe. 
It is a vital doctrine of Protestantism, that God's 
W ord is to be given to all, and read by all. As 
is well said in the Confession of Faith, c All the 
people of God who have right unto and interest in 
the Scriptures are commanded in the fear of God to 
read and search them/ And yet more explicitly is 
it said in the Directory for the Public Worship of 
God, that c besides public reading of the Holy 
Scriptures, every person that can read is exhorted 
to read the Scriptures privately, and to have a 
Bible.' 

You know, that in this matter we take direct 
issue with the Church of Rome. One of its 
fundamental doctrines is, that the Bible is not to be 
given to all : that the Bible is not to be given to 
ordinary Christians unless with the explanations of 
the Church, or the Priesthood. And, with strange 
inconsistency, many Protestant ministers do, in the 
public reading of the Bible in Church, habitually act 
upon the Popish principle. Although the sound 
Protestant doctrine is that God's Word can in the 
main be understood by all without any explanation ; 
and although the explicit law of the Church is, that 
God's Word be read in the congregation without note 
or comment ; we all know that there are churches 
in this country in which the minister does never read 

L 2 



j 48 



The Bilk. 



the Bible without accompanying it with a commentary 
or explanation of his own : thus breaking the law 
of the Church : thus acting upon vitally Popish 
principle, and giving up an essential doctrine of 
Protestantism ; and thus rendering it impossible for 
the congregation rightly to feel the sweep and force 
animutual bearing of the unimprovable words, which 
c Holy men of God spake as they were moved by 
the Holy Ghost.' And I venture to doubt whether 
any uninspired man can mend these. It is well, 
indeed, in the preaching of the Word, to seek to 
draw out the deeper meaning of words worthy 
of the longest thought ; but oh, let us daily hear, in 
God's public service^ Christ's blessed words as He 
said them, and the Spirit's own words as He inspired 
them, untouched and unimproved ! 

I have much more to say concerning the Bible ; 
and I trust, by God's permission and help, to con- 
tinue this subject at another time. Meanwhile, one 
w r ord as to the great theme of which the Spirit 
moved holy men of God, so far apart many of them 
from each other, to speak in these books which form 
the written Word of God. c Moses wrote of Me,' 
said our Blessed Redeemer : 1 The Scriptures/ said 
He, c are they which testify of Me.' True of the 
Old Testament, how much more manifestly so of 
the New! Yes, Christ Jesus our Lord, and God's 
glory in our salvation through Him, is the great 
pervading theme of God's Word. Other themes, 



Thr Bible. 149 



a host of others, are touched incidentally. You 
have maxims of the shrewdest worldly wisdom ; 
but oh, the great and ultimate thing is pardoning 
mercy and sanctifying grace ! And when we read 
our Bibles, we may read them indeed for guidance 
in each detail of the pilgrimage on earth ; but let 
us read them mainly for guidance to the Home in 
Heaven ! 



IX. 



THE BIBLE. 
ii. 

* And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.* 
Ephes. vi. 17. 

T TPON another day, it was my great privilege to 
speak to you on a subject which should always 
warm a Christian heart : to speak to you of the 
c Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise 
unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ 
Jesus.' We have seen how c Holy men of God 
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost :' 
how c All Scripture is given by inspiration of God ; 
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for cor- 
rection, for instruction in righteousness.' In my 
text to-day, you may see our Bibles described in a 
different way. You find here how St. Paul, telling 
of the various parts of the Christian soldier's ar- 
mour, makes mention of c The sword of the Spirit, 
which is the Word of God.' To the like effect is 
the imagery of a text in the Epistle to the Hebrews ; 
where we read that the c Word of God is quick and 
powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword : 



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piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and 
spirit:^ and of the joints and marrow ; and is a dis- 
cerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' 

Let me say here, that I do not intend to found my 
entire discourse upon the imagery suggested in the 
text : I wish that we may further expatiate over the 
subject of God's W ord, and think of certain matters 
of special interest and importance at this present day. 
Yet let us first think of the truth that is particularly 
set forth in the description of the Word of God as 
c the sword of the Spirit.' And thus thinking, and 
in all we say and hear, let us pray for the guidance, 
light, and love of that Blessed and Divine Being by 
whose inspiration ail Scripture was given at first 
through the holy men of God that wrote and spake 
it ; and by whose continued agency it is still made 
efficacious to convert the sinner, and to cheer and 
build up the saint. 

4 The sword of the Spirit,' says our text, c is the 
Word of God :' meaning not the sword the Holy 
Ghost uses Himself, but the sword He gives us to 
use. This sword has been used by our Saviour Him- 
self. You all remember how, when Satan assailed 
Him, our Master foiled him and drove him away for 
the time, just with this weapon. Here is the story 
in the best of all words. c Again, the devil taketh 
Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and 
showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and 
the glory of them ; and saith unto Him, All these 



The Bible. 



things will I give Thee, if Thou fall down and 
worship me.' There, my friends, the tempter made 
his assault ; and we know that he has been too suc- 
cessful in making men do what really comes to falling 
down and worshipping him, — as all wrong-doing 
does, — by temptations infinitely less than that. But 
the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, 
did, as it were, in that moment flash in his eyes, and 
disarm and defeat him : for c Then saith Jesus unto 
him, Get thee hence, Satan : for it is written, 
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him 
only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth Him.' 
That home-thrust drove him clean away. And let 
us, when we are assailed by Satan (and every temp- 
tation to think, say, or do wrong, may justly be 
regarded as an assault by Satan or one of his emis- 
saries) — let us defend ourselves with the same 
weapon which was so effectual in our Saviour's 
hand : let us defend ourselves with this weapon 
against all temptation. It is a great thing to have 
it always at hand : a great thing to have our memory 
so stored with little texts of Holy Scripture, that 
just at the right moment one fitted for the occasion 
may arise, to be a lamp to our feet and a light to 
our path ; to be a sword in our hand that shall 
pierce and slay the temptation, or put it to flight at 
least for the time. And indeed we know what a 
mighty weapon the sword of the Spirit has proved in 
many exigencies, besides those of personal tempta- 



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153 



tion assailing the believer himself. It has driven 
away temptation to sin, temptation to doubt God, 
temptation to run madly and desperately down to 
ruin, assailing some other soul. Now, when the 
devil was trying to make a poor sinful creature 
despair of God's mercy and Christ's love : when the 
devil drove such a poor sinner to the wretched mood 
which burst out in the miserable moan, c It is too 
late for me — too late — I am lost ! ' — oh what a 
blow was dealt on that cruel and wicked enemy, by 
one who had that ready command of the sword of 
the Spirit as to be able on the instant to say, 'Then 
you are the very man Christ came to save : for the 
Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was 
lost ! ' * Many are the poor despairing souls from 
which that touch from the sword of the Spirit has 
sent the great adversary away ! Yes, the sword of 
the Spirit is the Word of God. It is a grand thing 
to meet temptation with a text of Scripture: not 
to enter into negotiation with evil in any shape, nor 
to try to put a different face on what your heart 
tells you is wrong ; nor to consider how near some 
pleasant wrong thing you can go without entirely 
abandoning right. Just hold by some plain precept 
of God's Word, and that will keep you straight. 
You may not be able to unravel the arguments by 
which your own sinful heart, or some bad com- 
panion, may try to persuade you that it is no great 

* See Miss Marsh's invaluable little volume, The Victory Won. 



The Bible. 



matter to deviate a little from the even path when 
so much profit or pleasure is to be got by it : but 
just hold by the Word of God : that never shades 
away the difference between right and wrong : hold 
by tha^ and you are safe. c The wages of sin is 
death.' That puts an end for ever to all vain fancies 
that any sin is light. Then such a text as c Lie not 
to one another,' makes short work of all proposals 
to make things pleasant by a little colouring or 
smoothing down of plain unvarnished fact. 

I said, a little ago, that seeing God's Word is 
the sword with which the Christian can so effectually 
put down and drive away temptation, it is a great 
thing to have our memory well stored with precious 
little sentences of Holy Scripture. It is quite right 
to say that : we must use diligently all our natural 
powers. But do not fancy that a retentive memory, 
or a ready memory, or presence of mind, is the 
thing that will seasonably bring to remembrance the 
text of Scripture that is wanted. Neither are you 
to think that a clear perception of a text's meaning, 
or a readiness to give it all the consideration due 
to it, is the thing that will make it effectual to 
do what is wanted. No ; what is needful to put 
the sword in your hands at the critical moment, and 
to make it do its work effectually, is the Blessed 
Spirit whose sword it is. It is that gracious One, 
who will bring to our thoughts the text that fits the 
time j and who will make it, not so many common 



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J 55 



words, but something quick and powerful, and 
sharper than any two-edged sword. You remember 
our Blessed Redeemer's promise, that the Blessed 
Spirit should be our Remembrancer. c These 
things have I spoken unto you, being yet present 
with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy 
Ghost, He shall teach you all things, and bring all 
things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said 
unto you.' I will not w 7 aste a moment of our 
little time in showing you that these words, first 
spoken by our Saviour to His Apostles, convey 
a promise that it is ours too. But, when in 
some exigency, some season of temptation, or 
perplexity, or depression and doubt, the well-re- 
membered words flash upon us, or steal gently 
into our heart, and everything is clear and hopeful, 
and we are calmed and strengthened and cheered, 
and feel that the short text is indeed God's message 
to us, — do not let us think that it is very lucky we 
thought of the right verse at the right time ; do not 
let us be glad we have so good a memory, nor even 
stop at being thankful that on Sunday evenings when 
we were little children we were taught to get these 
inspired words to repeat to some one who is gone. 
No, let us look higher ; and thank the Holy Spirit 
of God ! And let us humbly ask Him always to 
suggest to us the message, the warning, the promise, 
the direction, in the moment we need it : and as we 
soldiers and servants of the Lord Jesus are assailed 



The Bible. 



by our spiritual foes ; as the world, the flesh, and 
the devil seek to mislead and destroy our immortal 
souls ; to put into our hand, in the instant of peril, 
a weapon proved and mighty ; — even c the sword of 
the Spirit, which is the Word of God ! ' 

And now to go to another matter. How do we 
know that the Bible is the Word of God ? Why do 
we receive this volume as such : as something quite 
different from all other books ? Here are wise words 
from the Confession of Faith : 

c We may be moved and induced by the testimony 
of the Church to an high and reverend esteem of the 
Holy Scripture : and the heavenliness of the matter, 
the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, 
the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole 
(which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery 
it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the 
many other incomparable excellences, and the entire 
perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth 
abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God ; 
yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assur- 
ance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, 
is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing 
witness by and with the word in our hearts.' 

My friends, if ever words, true to the experience 
of thousands and thousands of hearts, were written 
in this world, you have them there. You have the 
evidence that convinces the head. You have the 



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157 



evidence that comes home to the conscience. And 
thank God, that while the evidence that speaks to 
mere intellect does, in its highest perfection, belong 
mainly to scholars and logicians, the grander and 
better evidence, — the evidence that brings full per- 
suasion and assurance, — is within the reach of every 
human being that feels he is a poor sinner, and opens 
the door of his heart to Jesus and seeks peace and 
rest in Him. You will never shake such a one, 
clinging to the cross, and relying on the kind and 
gracious Holy Spirit, by outside " objections about 
various readings, and slips of transcribers, and that 
kind of thing : these do not come within a thousand 
miles of the stable, irresistible evidence, he rests 
on ! 

Yet it is well to remember that there are clear 
and w r eighty lines of evidence for the inspiration, the 
authenticity, and the genuineness of Holy Scripture : 
lines of evidence sufficient for the conviction of every 
candid mind. There are those considerations which 
arise from the Bible itself, and which are named in 
that passage from the Confession of Faith : what 
may be termed the Internal Evidence that the Bible 
is God's Word : the c majesty, purity, light, life, and 
efficacy which is in it.' Then there are the prophe- 
cies and miracles bv which it is confirmed : the 
consent of the Christian Church : innumerable 
testimonies from apostolic ages downwards that the 
Bible has been received as inspired : that the books 



153 



The Bible. 



which make up the Bible were written by the men 
to whom they are ascribed ; and that in all vital 
matters they remain as the writers left them. A 
host of volumes have been written by learned and 
good men, in which you may find all these argu- 
ments, and many more, drawn out at length ; this 
is not the time nor place for setting such forth : but 
there is one thing that may properly be said. It is 
a very fit thing that those of you who have time and 
capacity for such researches should acquire some 
general knowledge of the grounds, the less practical 
grounds, on which we hold the Bible to be the 
Word of God : but go into such investigations 
with prayer for God's direction, and in a truth- 
seeking spirit, not in a self-sufficient carping one : a 
man who wants to find objections may find them, 
however ample and clear the evidence may be. 
And further, I wish especially to say this to thought- 
ful young men : When you have plainly seen that 
the evidence that proves the Bible to be God's Word 
is sufficient, then let the question be settled forever. 
Just put that conclusion (as it were) on a shelf in 
your mind ; and refuse to take it down again, and to 
begin the matter over with every carping talker for 
talking' s sake. You may not always have your argu- 
ments at hand for production : you may not always 
be ready on the instant to meet the objections of 
some ingenious companion : but you may fitly say to 
such a one, c Well, I don't feel able all at once to 



The Bible. i£p 



tell you all the reasons that convinced me the Bible 
is God's Word: I don't feel able to refute the diffi- 
culties you have started : but I knew I found the 
reasons sufficient when I examined the question 
fully : and I saw through all difficulties then : and I 
tell you my mind is made up on that matter. 5 My 
friends, always do what you can to lead an earnest 
seeker after truth through his perplexities : but if 
any one wants to make God's Word of Life a subject 
for quibbling dialectics, see you refuse to discuss so 
solemn a thing in so unfit a way. And always teil 
any friend who, in this unsettled age, may be per- 
plexed with sceptical difficulties, that the way to make 
these vanish, is to pray the Holy Ghost to make him 
feel the vital power of our holy religion ; and the 
power of the Lord Jesus Christ, lifted up on the cross, 
to draw all men to Him. Oh, when we are con- 
vinced of our sin and our need of a Saviour : when 
we are brought in earnestness to ask ; What must I 
do to be saved ? ' and to cry c God be merciful to 
me a sinner ; 3 how such a declaration as that c The 
blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin,' will commend 
itself to our conscience, more welcome than water 
to the dying for thirst : what witness of the Spirit 
we shall have then that these things — that all the 
blessed Gospel of our salvation, must be true, — or 
how could we live : 

Yes, brethren, the Confession of Faith is proved, 
by abundant experience, to be right when it says that 



i6o 



The Bible. 



after all, excellent and irresistible as the arguments 
may be that prove that the Bible is the Word of God, 
c our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible 
truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward 
work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with and by 
the word in our hearts.' And a thousand-fold 
better, the simple faith of one who just humbly 
rests in the belief of God's Word, because he 
feels something in his breast that tells him it must 
be true ; — better that a thousand-fold, than the 
proud ingenuity of one who queries, doubts, and 
argues^ till he lands himself in wretched scepticism, 
or in utter unbelief. Best of all, indeed, the faith 
which has its seat alike in the conviction of the 
understanding, the testimony of the conscience, 
and the assent of the feelings : but if we must 
make a choice between them, give us the assurance 
of the heart rather than that of the head. You re- 
member the touching contrast drawn by an eloquent 
author, between the poor slave and the polished 
Roman philosopher, each in his day of bitter grief : 
how the one, if he had read the words of hope and 
promise on the sacred page, would have perplexed 
his head first with a hundred questions of authenticity 
of manuscript and correctness of translation : but to 
the other, there it lay, just what he needed, so evi- 
dently true and divine that the possibility of a ques- 
tion never entered his simple mind. Now that best 
evidence is within the reach of all : God grant it to 



The Bible. 



161 



every one of us ! You all know well the touching 
lines in which a Christian poet contrasts the philo- 
sophic infidel with the Christian cottager : and some 
of you know, how when that good man Dr. Chal- 
mers was Professor of Divinity, after he had set out 
before his students the evidence which may convince 
the head that the Bible comes from God, he was 
wont to sum up by saying that there is a better evi- 
dence by far ; and you have it described and com- 
mended in the famous lines : 

She for her humble sphere by nature fit, 

Has little understanding, and no wit : 

Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true,— 

A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew— 

And in that charter reads, with sparkling eyes. 

Her title to a treasure in the skies. 

Oh, happy peasant ! oh, unhappy bard ! 
His the mere tinsel, hers the rich reward. 
He, praised perhaps for ages yet to come 5 
She never heard of half a mile from home s 
He, lost in errors his vain heart prefers j 
She, safe in the simplicity of hers. 

And now, leaving this matter, with a prayer that 
the Blessed Spirit may work in each of us, ever 
more completely, this demonstration that the Bible 
is from God, let us go on to think of a question 
which in these days cannot be passed without remark 
by any one who, in discoursing of God's book, desires 
to keep up with the progress of modern religious 
thought. 

M 



The Bible. 



Here is the question: Is there progress from age 
to age in men's understanding of the Bible ? Have 
Christian people come now to see more in the 
Bible than Christian people used to see ? And 
may it be expected that, as time goes on, Christian 
people will see more in the Bible than now we 
see i 

My friends, all controversy tends to grow angry. 
When people have a very decided opinion on a sub- 
ject, they find it hard to bear patiently with other 
people who think differently. But no controversy 
is so ill-natured as religious controversy. And pro- 
bably religious controversy never was angrier than 
in the discussion of this question. Let us lament 
that true religion, in many men, is alloyed with so 
much narrowness, bitterness, and unfairness ; and 
let us pray for the guidance of God's Spirit to keep 
us free from these, and to clear our minds on this 
matter. It seems to me, that such as approach the 
question in an honest and teachable spirit ought to 
find little difficulty in it. 

Of course, all God's revelation to man is con- 
tained in the Bible, Nothing can be added to what 
is written there. But there is no doubt that people 
may come to understand the Bible better. Eastern 
travellers have told us many things about the country 
and the people, which explain statements and allu- 
sions on the sacred page. In an old infidel book, 
you may find it said that the story of the sick man 



The Bible. 



who was let down through the roof of a house to be 
healed by Christ, is absurd on the face of it. Then 
the writer goes on to show how impossible it would 
be to carry a sick man in a bed like our beds to the 
top of a house like our houses, and to take off the 
slates, and cut away the timbers of the roof, and 
lower the sick man into a room in that wav. You 
see the infidel writer fancied that a bed in Judea 
was like a bed here, and a house in Judea like a 
house here. But every schoolboy could tell him 
now that a bed in the East was a light stretcher, just 
the most convenient thing to earn 7 a sick man on : 
that an Eastern house had a flat roof, easy of access, 
and with a door lying flat which had but to be lifted 
up and there was the space below where Jesus was 
with the crowd of lookers-on. Now here is a case 
in which progress has been made in understanding 
the Bible. No one now would make that blunder 
into which the infidel writer fell through his igno- 
rance. And here is one specimen of many in which 
modern research, and travel, and critical skill, have 
made men understand the Bible better. 

So far, things are plain. But this does not touch 
anything vital. Can progress be made in vital 
matters ? Is there any hope of discovering in the 
Bible some new doctrine that concerns salvation ? 
Is there any chance of some day finding out that 
people have been wrong in thinking the Bible 
teaches that men are pardoned through the atoning 

M 2 



I&4 



The Bible. 



sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Holy 
Spirit ? Well, brethren, there are those who to 
these questions would say, Yes. But to these 
questions we say, No ! In things vital, things 
needful to salvation, all Christian people in all ages 
have understood God's Word alike ; all Christian 
people will understand it alike till the end of time. 
We are justified through faith in Christ ; we are 
sanctified by the Holy Ghost. There has been no 
progress ; there will be no progress ; in things like 
these. In matters not vital, it is a fact of the 
believer's experience that in a certain sense there is 
progress in understanding the Bible. What believer 
does not know that there is a richness, a depth of 
meaning, in the inspired Word, that cannot be 
exhausted by a single reading : that a believer may 
read his Bible, praying for the illumination of the 
Holy Spirit, every day through forty years ; and 
always find a fresh grace, fitness, and beauty, at 
each fresh perusal. As the believer grows in grace, 
attains a holier spirituality, he will understand his 
Bible better: will discover that 'there remaineth 
yet very much land to be possessed' in its gracious 
meaning. I feel quite sure that all Christians who 
have been Christians for years, could say, that now 
they find something in the Psalms they did not 
use to find. In the Bible, you know, there are 
c things which the angels desire to look into but, 
while you thankfully acknowledge all this, see 



The Bible. 165 



you oe not misled by the artful plausibilities of 
these modern days into thinking that the blessed 
doctrines which concern salvation, the things to our 
belief in which we trust our souls for eternity, are 
mere provisional, temporary truths, that may serve 
us now, but that some day will be pushed aside, and 
give way to something farther and better, to be 
drawn forth from the old pages of the Bible by the 
keener criticism and larger insight of a future age. 
Do not trust those who speak to you, however 
eloquently, of c the Christ that is to be;' of some 
new and nobler system into which our present 
Christianity is to pass and vanish. There never 
will be another Christ : never another Gospel. To 
the end of time, c The blood of Christ will cleanse 
from all sin;' and c In Christ Jesus neither circum- 
cision will avail anything, nor uncircumcision ; but 
a new creature.' We may say assuredly, that till 
this world ends, the way of salvation will be what 
it is now, and has always been. c Other foundation 
can no man lay than is laid, which is Jesus Christ.' 
Who can forget St. Paul's awful words : — c Though 
we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other 
gospel unto you than that which we have preached 
unto you, let him be accursed ! ' 

And having said this, we may add, that while the 
interpretation has remained and will remain unaltered 
as to doctrines which concern salvation, Christian 
men have, as time has gone on, drawn from the 



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Bible great principles which were formerly not sup- 
posed to be contained in it. Most of us, for in- 
stance, would say that the great principle of religious 
toleration, — the principle that no man should be 
punished by man for his religious belief, — is founded 
upon the whole principle of the Bible : but for 
centuries men did not know that : men burnt and 
tortured those who they esteemed as heretics ; and 
thought they were doing God service. And just 
the other day the Pope published, in the astonished 
ears of Europe, that he is of that opinion still. He 
thinks that the principle that man is responsible for 
his belief only to his God, is a mischievous error, 
opposed to God's Word. Protestants have learned 
better, and some day the Church of Rome may 
learn better too. Then there are parts of the world 
in which men believe that negro slavery is approved 
by the Bible ; there were ages in which everybody 
believed so : we have come to understand the 
Scriptures better ; and we look for the day when 
the truth of God shall make all men free. And 
you know, there are many people who declare that 
the Bible teaches that the Church should have no 
connection with the State : that the Bible teaches 
what is called the Voluntary Principle in matters 
ecclesiastical. If the Bible teaches that, here 
is progress in the understanding of it, beyond all 
doubt. Here is a new discovery of a doctrine in 
the Bible. For unquestionably no one found that 



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16 j 



doctrine in the Bible, till the last-written portion of 
the BibJe was sixteen hundred years old. 

And now, my brethren, how shall I draw to a 
close these things which have been said about the 
blessed Word of God, better than by reminding 
you of what you all know well : by Whose kind 
help and light we should always read our Bibles. 
He who of old moved holy men of God to write 
the pages we know, is still ready to help us to un- 
derstand them savingly ; and to help us to read in 
such a spirit, that we shall find them to bear the 
words of eternal life. If we read our Bibles as a 
mere heartless task, they will do us no good : if we 
read them in a critical, fault-finding spirit, we may 
make them do us much harm. Now I tell you 
this is not a piece of systematic theology, away 
from actual life. It is not a bit more certain that 
the light of your lamp will fall this evening on the 
page of your Bible, as you read your chapter of it, 
than it is that the light of God's Holy Spirit will 
this evening shine on that same page, if you heartily 
pray for it. And not all the commentaries and 
lexicons of scholars and divines will stand us in 
such stead to make us feel the deep meaning and 
blessed comfort of God's holy Word, as the illumi- 
nation of the Holy Spirit; there is nothing else in 
this world that will so bring it home to us, Now 
that is God's message to me, even me ! And not 
all the old memories that gather round the book, 



The Bible. 



which we have known since we knew anything, and 
whose words will stay with us when all other words 
are forgot, can so avail to warm and touch our 
hearts^ as one breath of that kindly Sanctifier and 
Comforter. My friends, I shall be well content 
with the good these sermons on God's Word have 
done us, if we all resolve, now, even now, that 
when we read our Bibles, at least morning and 
evening every day, we shall just for a moment look 
up to God, and pray, c Fill me with Thy Spirit ! ' 
We cannot too often offer that prayer ; we never 
can offer the prayer that is so sure to be answered ! 
All grace is of Him, for whose coming it was expe- 
dient that even Christ should go ; and when we do 
not know the grace we specially need, He knows ; 
and if He dwell in us, He will work that in us. 
Let us offer that prayer daily, hourly — in every little 
pause in our work — Fill me with Thy Spirit ! 



169 



X. 

PARTAKING OF OTHER MEN'S SINS, 

* Neither be partaker of other men's sins.' — 1 Tim. v. 22. 

/ I ^HERE is something which is very striking, 
and very awful, in the thought which is 
suggested to our minds in the words which have 
just been read. We often hear it said, that it is 
quite enough for any man in this world to answer 
for his own doings or misdoings : it is not fair to 
lay upon him any burden of guilt beyond that which 
is properly his own : or to attach to him any dis- 
credit because he comes, perhaps, of an ill-doing 
family; or because some one closely related to him 
has fallen into gross sin and shame. And if, in the 
nature of things, it is possible for us to help feeling 
as though a reflected disgrace were cast upon that 
person whose near kinsman has broken the laws of 
his country, for instance, and died a felon's death ; 
still we are ready at once to confess, when the thing 
is fairly put to us, that it is not fit or just to hold 
any human being responsible for that which has 
been done by another ; and that it is quite enough 



I/O Partaking of Other Men s Shis. 

to answer for the wrong which he has done himself. 
Quite enough, indeed : quite enough to be told that 
c every one of us shall give account of himself to 
God : ' for when we try, in silent thought, to 
reckon up our own sins and shortcomings; when we 
just think of the long and woful catalogue of trans- 
gressions that muster at our call, the sins of child- 
hood, of youth, of maturity ; and when we call it to 
mind that multitudes more are forgotten by us, but 
perfectly remembered by the Almighty ; we are 
driven to say with the Psalmist, c Who can under- 
stand his errors ? ' We tremble to think of the 
heavy load of responsibility and of guilt which we 
have accumulated for ourselves. But can it be, 
that this is not all : can it be, that we have all of us 
more to answer for than we have ourselves done : 
can it be, that when the day of reckoning arrives, 
we shall stand before the bar of God guilty, not 
merely of all the ill that we have done ourselves, 
but guilty too because of ill deeds which have 
been done by others ? Is it not then enough, that 
c every man shall bear his own burden ' of sin and 
sorrow ; but must we also answer for the doings of 
men whom we never saw or knew, in that they 
did things which we never heard of? Yes, mv 
brethen, all this is indeed possible : if it had not been 
possible, St. Paul would never have warned his 
young disciple Timothy in such words as those of 
my text, c Neither be partaker of other men's sins.' 



Partaking of Other Men s Sins, iji 



The caution implies that the thing is possible 
against which the caution is given : you do not 
think of warning any man against that which it is 
impossible he should ever do. And when we look 
to the passage in which the text stands, we see at 
once the particular way in which Timothy, in his 
peculiar station, might become in very deed guilty 
through the wrong-doing of other men. c Lay 
hands,' says St. Paul — c lay hands suddenly upon no 
man, neither be partaker of oiher men's sins : keep 
thyself pure.' You know that from the earliest 
days of the Church, it has been usual to set apart 
those ordained to the holy ministry by laying hands 
upon their head : and Paul here cautions Timothy 
not to be hasty or rash in taking a step so im- 
portant as that of setting any man, duly authorised 
and designated, to so solemn a work. And as a 
special reason for caution, St. Paul suggests that 
Timothy, by introducing unworthy men to the 
Christian pastorate, might become partaker in their 
sins. If he ordained to that office a man who 
taught false doctrine, or who led a wicked life, he 
w 7 ould be (so to speak) endorsing that man's heresy 
or wickedness : he would be giving to it the 
sanction of his authority, lending to it whatever 
weight his own name and office might carry with 
them : and it might happen that Christian people, 
who would have stood on their guard against false 
teaching unbacked by an honoured and trusted 



iyz Partaking of Other Mens Sins. 



name, might be misled to ruin by vital error taught 
by one who drew weight and credit from the fact 
that Timothy had ordained him. And if Timothy 
had laid hands upon such a man hastily and thought- 
lessly, without taking proper pains and giving ade- 
quate time to discover what his views were, then I 
think you will see at once that Timothy would be to 
some degree blameworthy for all the mischief which 
that man did ; and Timothy might very justly be 
said to be c partaker of another man's sin.' 

Such was the peculiar w T ay in which it was pos- 
sible for Timothy to fall into this condemnation ; 
but you will see at once that St. Paul expresses his 
warning in general terms ; and that the general 
principle implied in the text is, that we may so act 
as to participate in the sin of others \ but that, 
of course, we ought not to act so. Now I 
think it extremely likely that some of you, when 
you are told that you may sin in the persons of 
other men, and so may sin in countries which you 
never saw, and in years after you are in your grave ; 
I think it extremely likely that some of you, when 
you are told all this, may think to yourselves that it 
can only be possible to make all this out by verv 
subtle and far-fetched reasoning, not level to common 
understandings, not bearing on common hearts. 
You think, That I, myself, should have to answer 
for sins which I myself did not do and perhaps 
never heard of, — surely, such an idea as that can 



Partakhtg of Other Mens Sins. 173 



only be made out by some logical subtlety, which I 
may indeed not be able to unravel, but which leads 
to a conclusion at which my common sense revolts. 
And I shall admit at once, that any doctrine, to be 
entitled to general reception, must not merely 
be derivable or deducible from Scripture, but dedu- 
cible by plain and simple steps which all men can 
understand, and which shall be quite comprehen- 
sible by plain folk with no head for metaphysics. I 
set little store by any tenet whatsoever, which you 
cannot draw from the New Testament, unless you 
know Greek and have studied Logic. But St. Paul, 
you see, says plainly and without a word of expla- 
nation, that there may be such a thing as being a 
4 partaker of other men's sins.' And I trust that I 
shall be able to make it plain to all of you, however 
startling the first statement may seem, that it is 
quite possible for a man to contract guilt through 
deeds which he did not do ; and quite just to punish 
a man for what has been done by others. 

Now, my brethren, there is a sense in which it 
is perfectly true, that no man can with justice be 
held responsible for anything besides that which he 
has himself done. There is a sense in which it is 
not possible for any man to be partaker in the sin 
of another. You cannot transfer responsibility. If 
one man does wrong, it would be flagrantly unjust 
to punish for that wrong an innocent man, — a man 
who neither directly nor indirectly, had anything 



174 Partaking of Other Men s Sins. 



to do with that wrong. But here is the es- 
sential point of the whole matter. No man can 
justly be held responsible for that which he did not 
do : but then a man may do many things besides 
those which he does directly. A man may do many 
things at second-hand, so to speak ; and in that case 
he is quite as responsible for them as if he had done 
them with his own hand. For instance, you can 
all understand that if any person hires another to 
commit a murder for him, both parties in that trans- 
action are equally guilty of the crime of murder. 
When we read, now and then, of how some im- 
proving landlord or obnoxious magistrate, in that 
unhappy island which is so closely linked with our 
own ? has been shot from behind a hedge by some 
stupid and black-hearted ruffian, we know thoroughly 
well that although a single hand dealt that violent 
death, the murder is one which is partaken in by 
many : partaken in by every skulking coward who 
is waiting within call to hear the shot fired, and by 
every unsexed woman who will by-and-by aid in 
hiding the actual murderer from the reach of justice. 
All that seems plain enough : we see at once that a 
man may justly be held answerable for a crime which 
he has not courage to commit himself, but which 
he procures to be done by another man. And we 
can see, too, without difficulty, that you may justly 
be said to be c partaker in other men's sins/ if you 
aid and abet them ; if you become accessory to 



Partaking of Other Mens Sins. ij£ 



them - y if you encourage those who commit them ; 
and perhaps even if you fail to rebuke them. You 
who listen with a smile to the foul story or the ribald 
conversation : you who allow the blasphemous oath 
to pass with no sign at all of the indignation it 
should excite in the man of taste and sense ; you 
know perfectly well that you are making yourselves 
partakers in the sin at which you are present and 
assisting. And indeed in many cases the accomplice 
is worse than the actual sinner : for in the case of 
the accomplice there is all the original guilt, with 
cowardice and meanness added. But, brethren, 
although you can see all this, there is anotjher way 
in which you can sin it second-hand, and thus be- 
come partaker in other men's sins, which it takes 
more thought to understand, and whose conse- 
quences are more startling. In these instances of 
which we have been thinking, you are consenting to 
the crime in which you partake : you are probably 
present at it : you incur its guilt with your eyes 
open, and knowing perfectly what you do. But may 
you not likewise be partaker in sins of which at their 
commission you did not know, and at whose com- 
mission you would shudder ? May you not, in the 
moral world, sometimes set the great stone rolling 
down the hill, with little thought of the ruin it may 
deal below ? As for instance, you, a parent, neglect 
the training of your child : that child grows up into 
guilt which appall you, — guilt which terrifies youj 



ij6 Partaking of Other Mens Sins. 



but are you not still partaker in that guilt, — answer- 
able for that guilt at the bar of God ! Ah, you 
know you are : you know full well that if that 
neglected child should end at the gallows ; the fault, 
the sin, the shame, will still be in a great measure 
your own ! Or, perhaps you let fall infidel senti- 
ments, or immoral sentiments, in the presence of 
young persons ; and these sentiments, coming with 
all the weight of your authority and your approval, 
sink deeper by far than you had ever dreamed ; and 
are carried out to their consequences, and carried 
out into practice, in a way of which you never 
dreamed ; and will you dare to say that you are not 
to a great degree responsible for the evil conse- 
quences which followed from that poisonous seed 
which you so recklessly scattered ? Ah ! you may 
live after you are dead, to do mischief : live in the 
evil thoughts you instilled, the false doctrines you 
taught, the perverse character you helped to form. 
And even as the great Apostle, c though dead, vet 
speaketh' from the sacred page; and warns the 
sinner, comforts the sorrowful, guides the perplexed, 
smooths the dying pillow, ages after he was in his 
grave \ so may you, insignificant though you be, have 
left some evil impress of yourself upon minds more 
powerful than your own ; and so be exercising a 
power to do harm, to people whom you never heard 
of, in years after you are dead. When you stand 
before the Judgment Throne, you may find yourself 



Partaking of Other Men s Sins. 177 



called to answer for myriads of sins besides those 
which you directly committed ; and you will feel 
that your condemnation for these sins is just and 
right. 

Let us, then, look somewhat more closely into 
this great principle which I have been endeavour- 
ing to set before you. Let us look more particu- 
larly at some of the ways in which we may become 
c partakers of other men's sins.' And when we do 
so, we shall set aside the grosser and more direct 
fashions in which this is done : we shall not think 
of such coarse cases as that of the drunkard, who 
would tempt others to become as vile as himself, 
or of the profligate, who would lead unwary youth 
into the same degradation in which he himself 
grovels. But let us think how a man may become 
partaker in the sins cf others, by what he says, 
and by what he does : how we may all sin at 
second-hand by the lip, and by the life. 

And in thinking, first, of how we may make 
others to sin by suggesting evil thoughts and feelings, 
let us take an extreme case by way of example : 
an extreme case, indeed, but unhappily not an un- 
precedented one. Let us think of a great genius : 
of a man to whom God has been pleased to give 
that rare and wonderful power, of excogitating 
beautiful thoughts which shall come home to the 
heart and brain of other men, and clothing these 
beautiful thoughts in words which shall fall like 

N 



1 78 Partaking of Other Mens Sins. 

music on the ear. Let us think of such a man 
applying the noble powers which God gave him 
for high and pure designs, to surround vice with 
all the fascinations of poetry and romance, — to 
strip it of all its grossness, while leaving all its 
guilt : let us think of him writing tales and poems, 
ail of the most corrupting tendency : going to un- 
dermine the very foundations of all morality and 
all religion : and wrapping up infidelity and profli- 
gacy in thoughts that breathe^ and words that burn. 
Those of you who are only moderately well ac- 
quainted with the literature of only our own 
country, will know whether such a case has ever 
been. Is not such a man, by his writings, present 
to the minds of multitudes, upon each individual in 
which he may produce a positive evil result : ex- 
citing, perhaps, the baser passions of human nature, 
— weakening, it may be, the foundations of Chris- 
tian faith. And in every such case, is not that per- 
verted genius justly chargeable with a share of that 
sin to which his writings have tempted ? Ah ! 
wheresoever the press has scattered the poet's 
volume, or the romancer's tale, — so cheaply sold, 
because its viciousness has procured for it a circu- 
lation a hundred-fold wider than that which would 
have been obtained by its genius alone — there is 
that prostituted talent doing the very work of the 
Evil One, who, having sinned himself, made it his 
business to make others sin too ! And after that 



Partaking of Other Mens Sins* iyg 

man has repented, if grace be given him to repent, — 
after that man is in his grave — he is still partakings 
it may be, in the sin of thousands ; nor could any- 
thing short of a miracle make him cease to do so ; 
for he could only cease to do so if every evil 
thought and every corrupt feeling, which his writings 
have ever instilled into the mind of any man, were 
made as though it had never been. Now, my 
brethren, you may never have had in your power 
to do mischief to such a degree as that perverted 
genius : you may never have printed a word : you 
may be quite devoid of the ability which would 
enable you to do so : but remember that as it w T as 
high praise to say of one who had done well, 
though not much, that she had c done what she 
could , ' so there can be no greater blame than to 
have done evil to all the little extent that lay within 
your power : to have done evil in your own petty 
circle, and to the limit of your own poor abilities. 
You may have done in a lower degree what the 
bad great man did on a grander scale. You may 
by your conversation encourage licentiousness : 
you may insinuate infidelity : by trifling expressions, 
by shrugs or smiles, you may awaken doubt in a 
simple mind, you may suggest unhallowed thoughts : 
you may tend to break down moral courage, or to 
diminish the holy horror in which youth should 
ever hold anything that partakes of the nature of 
vice. Or, you may not go to the length of ex- 

N 2 



180 Part ah jig of Other Mens Shis. 

pressing or insinuating that which is blasphemous 
or immoral : you may never say that which is 
worse than worldly : your conversation may do no 
more than inculcate, by its entire tone, that in this 
life we have nothing else to do than to make 
money or gain standing, and that religion is a thing 
which must always go to the wall whenever its 
claims or principles come in collision with what 
vou think the great realities, the interests of sense 
and time. And even then, will you not be so in- 
juriously acting upon other men, as that you shall 
be making yourself accessory to their sin, and par- 
taker in their guilt ? Even then, when you allow 
vice to pass without reproof, for fear of giving 
offence, are you not thus tacitly encouraging it ? 
Even then, when you soften down the stern 
requirements of religion, for fear of making some 
one uncomfortable whom the truth would make 
uncomfortable, are you not thus practically en- 
couraging him to remain worldly as he is ? Even 
then, may vou not be bringing blood-guiltiness 
upon vour soul, by helping to make others worse 
than they might have been but for you? Even then, 
may vou not be swelling the catalogue of the sins 
for which you must enter into judgment, by making 
yourself c partaker of other men's sins ? ' 

So far, then, for certain fashions in which by the 
lip, by speech or by silence, you may become ac- 
cessory and abetting to other men's sins : and next 



Partaking of Other Metis Shis. 1 8 1 



we remark that by your life and example you may 
do so even more effectually. Example, whether 
good or bad, is always more efficient than precept : 
and you know quite well that many a man has 
taken heart to do a sinful deed because he saw 
another do it, who but for that would never have 
done so. The sinner, by his sinful example, makes 
other men sin : he rubs off the edge of rhe horror 
in which they had held the offence before they saw 
it actually carried out into execution : he shows the 
way to sin : and of course he becomes a sharei in 
the guilt which he thus leads another to contract. 
You are perfectly aware that oftentimes the exam- 
ple of persons holding high rank and wielding great 
power, has served to make vice fashionable and 
general : a profligate court has seen its immoralities 
aped by a profligate nation : a swearing peer makes 
his lackeys and stable-boys think it a fine thing 
to blaspheme. But there are thoughts which 
come more closely home to professing Christians 
like us who are assembled here. We would 
gladly believe that there is no one now within the 
reach of my voice who by a directly immoral exam- 
ple would countenance others in a life of immorality : 
but let us remember that there are ways less gross 
whereby even sincere Christians may have them- 
selves to blame bitterly for the sins and follies of 
others. The higher a man's profession of religion, 
the more closely will his practice be watched, both 



1 8 2 Partaking of Other Metis Sins. 



by such as have little religion and by such as have 
none at all : and who does not know how any 
inconsistency, any lapse, on the part of a professing 
Christian, is laid hold of by ungodly men to coun- 
tenance their ungodly lives, and to show that all 
religion is a pretence and a delusion ! You who 
go to the Communion-table, you who declare 
that you are seeking to live under the influence of 
the religion of Jesus, you may be, either living 
epistles, known and read of all men, in recommenda- 
tion of the faith you profess, or stumbling-blocks 
across the threshold of the Christian fold : men 
whose lives go to nullify your minister's preaching, 
and to ruin your brethren's souls. Do not think 
yourselves entirely insignificant : you might be in- 
significant if you only destroyed yourselves, but 
you cease to be insignificant when you have it 
in your power to do your share towards destroy- 
ing a hundred others. By your inconsistent 
lives, you may give such occasions of offence as 
that many may fall : c none of us liveth to himself:' 
and tell me, if you so live as to encourage the 
irreligious man in his irreligion, as to foster pre- 
judices against the gospel, as to make it easier for 
the sinner to stifle the warning voice within him, 
— whether you have not incurred a share of the 
guilt you abetted, and thus made yourself 4 partaker 
of other men's sins ?' 

I think, my brethren, that the longer we dwell 



Partaking of Other Mens Sins. 183 



upon the subject, the more deeply we must feel 
how inexpressibly awful is the thought which 
is set before us in the text. God knows, that 
when our eyes are in any degree opened by the 
Holy Spirit to a sense of our state by nature, the 
sins that we have directly done appear in number 
and in aggravation, something w T hich, but for the 
great Atonement of Calvary, might drive us to utter 
despair. We can imagine how Paul felt himself to 
be the c chief of sinners : 9 we can imagine how 
he clung to that c faithful saying/ so c worthy of all 
acceptation,' that c Jesus Christ came into the world 
to save sinners ; ' but how our sins grow and 
multiply to the view, when the light of this text is 
turned upon them, — when we add to all the wrong 
we have directly done the wrong which we 
have done at second-hand, the wrong which we 
have encouraged other men to do ! And in what 
a multitude of ways is it possible for us thus 
to 4 partake of other men's sins ! ' And how far 
down into unknown time, and how far away into 
unknown distance, the moral contagion of our sin 
may spread ! We may still be incurring guilt, 
after the green turf is over us : we may be incurring 
guilt in lands which we have never seen and shall 
never see. The evil principle we instilled, the evil 
example we set, may ripen into bitter fruit in the 
murderous blow which shall be dealt a century 
hence upon Australian plains. How strange, yet 



184 Partaking of Other Men s Shis. 



how inevitable, the tie which may link our uneventful 
life with the stormy passions of numbers far away ! 
It is but as yesterday that we heard of the success 
of that marvellous achievement of science, which 
has set the old world in momently communication 
with the new \ and the most sluggish imagination 
must have been wakened somewhat, in the thought 
of that slender cable, which, far beneath the waves 
of the great Atlantic, lying still in stirless ocean 
valleys, and scaling trackless ocean cliffs, maintains 
the subtle current through those thousands of miles ; 
but more wonderful still, surely, is that unseen fibre, 
along which, from other men's sins, responsibility 
may thrill even to our departed souls : a chain whose 
links are formed, perhaps, of idle words, of for- 
gotten looks, of phrases of double meaning, of 
bad advice, of cynical sentiment hardly seriously 
meant ; yet carried on through life after life, 
through soul after soul, till the little seed of evil 
sown by you has developed into some deed of guilt 
at which you would shudder, but from some par- 
ticipation in responsibility for which you cannot clear 
yourself. It is a principle of English law, that if 
you are doing what is wrong, and if even by acci- 
dent evil consequences follow from what you are 
doing a thousand times worse than you ever intended, 
you are still held responsible for them all : for once 
out of the strict path of right, you must answer 
for anything whatsoever which results from your 



Partaking of Other Men s Sins. 185 



deviation from it. And this principle, you see, runs 
through God's law too. Give a man bad advice, 
and although he may carry it out into consequences 
from which you would shrink, you are still partaker 
of his sin : instil into any soul an evil principle or a 
wicked sentiment, and though he may develop from 
it something; far worse than vou ever thought was 
latent in it, and though he may carry it out with a 
rigour of logic and a sternness of resolution that vou 
never durst, still you are partaker of his sin. Yea, 
the thought widens out bevond anything which I 
have hitherto suggested \ for surely it is nothing 
more than a legitimate extension of the great 
principle of the text, to say that in some measure 
we are responsible for the sin which we failed to do 
our utmost to prevent \ and so that even heathen 
cruelty and heathen idolatry may be in so far charge- 
able on us, because, though we never bowed to the 
senseless image, though we never imbrued our hands 
in a fellow-creature's blood, we yet failed to give of 
our means, our efforts, our prayers, to send to those 
dark lands that gospel light, which might have 
bidden these things die out for ever. 

I tell you, my hearers, I grow afraid of this text 
as I go on. It is perfectly endless to think of the 
ways in which we may become c partakers in other 
men's sins.' Surely, linked together by bands of a 
common responsibility, all men shall appear as 
brethren before the judgment throne. In truth. 



1 86 Partaking of Other Men's Sins. 



the only way in which it is possible for us to cease 
to sin in the person of others, is by ceasing to sin 
in our own : for every sin may waken its echo, 
every sin is reduplicated and reiterated, in other 
souls and lives. And as it is too late in the day for 
any of us to hope to stand before God, justified on 
the ground of our own merit because we have 
never sinned ourselves ; so it is too late to hope that 
we shall not have to answer for other men's sins, 
on the ground that we have never partaken of them. 
We have done so already, a thousand and a thousand 
times : oh let us pray for preventing grace for the 
future ! But the grand bearing of our text is to 
humble us as helpless sinners before a forgiving 
God ; and to lead us with unutterable earnestness, 
with unspeakable sense of our overwhelming need, 
to betake ourselves to that gracious Saviour whose 
blood has power to cleanse from all sin. Not in 
vain have we this day dwelt upon a sad and a 
humbling subject of contemplation, if so the old 
lesson of our hopelessness by ourselves, and of our 
simple reliance upon Christ crucified, has been 
brought home with something more than ordinary 
pith and plainness to your hearts. Oh surely you 
did not need to be told, as any piece of news, that 
by nature you are lost sinners ; but surely such 
thoughts as those on which we have now been 
dwelling should make us all feel that we are lost in 
ten-fold loss. Then well for us, if with earnestness 



Partaking of Other Men s Sins. 187 



the deeper we turn to Him who came to seek and 
save c that which was lost !' He did not chide the 
poor Magdalen : He did not turn away from the 
dying robber: He 'received sinners,' — oh, how 
kindly : and though He hath been lost to human 
sight for eighteen hundred years, — though Fie hath 
exchanged the humiliation of the Nazarene for a 
place on the right hand of God, — we know con- 
cerning Him, what we never can be sure of in a 
human friend, after even a year's absence, that He 
is still the same ! It may be, — God only knoweth, — 
that that beloved brother or sister that died, but 
that lives still in the deeps of our heart with features 
and form unchanged, — it may be that such a one, 
growing in the better world, hath grown now into 
something, beautiful indeed and happy, but some- 
thing which is not what we remember, something 
which we should never know : but not so is it with 
that beloved Redeemer who died for us upon the 
accursed tree ! Go to Him to-day, and He will 
welcome you more kindly than the kind father 
received his prodigal son. The more you feel you 
need Him, the more confidently you may trust 
yourself to Him : and never fear a repulse, though 
you should have to add to the confession and peti- 
tion, c Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great,' the 
further, and deeper, and more comprehensive con- 
fession, c And I have been partaker of other men's 
sins ! ' 



i88 



XL 

THE CATTLE PLAGUE. 

'How do the beasts groan ! The herds of cattle are perplexed.' 
Joel i. i3. 

\X 7E have been called by the highest Court of 
* * our Church to make this a time of solemn 
humiliation and prayer, in the presence of a grievous 
plague upon cattle ; which may not unfitly be re- 
called to our remembrance by these words, uttered 
by the Prophet Joel twenty-seven centuries ago. 
This plague has already caused heavy and even 
ruinous loss to many ; and has tended to withdraw 
from all some portion of their daily food. Nor can 
we venture to say that we have seen the last and 
worst of this great calamity. We are called to 
acknowledge, in this, the hand of Almighty God : 
to humble ourselves under His righteous judgment, 
and to turn from our sins by a true repentance : 
earnestly praying that, if it be God's will, the heavy 
plague may be stayed and removed. And surely 
when we ask this, we are not confining our thoughts 
to our own selfish material comfort \ nor even to 



The Cattle Plague. 189 



pinched households, where the calamity that has 
come upon the nation will be felt far more keenly 
than it ever will be by many here present : surely 
we have a kindly thought for the poor dumb beasts 
that never sinned, yet that now are bearing so 
grievous a part of that suffering which man's sin 
brought into this world. There are few things more 
touching than the expression of the eye of a dumb 
creature in pain. And we know that He, who made 
us for our endless immortality, and our humbler 
fellow-creatures for their little span of dull unrea- 
soning consciousness, thought kindly (among other 
things) of the c much cattle' of Nineveh, when he 
spared that great city in the days of the prophet 
Jonah. 

Let us seek that our prayers this day may be 
the prevailing prayers of faith. Let us seek for 
God's grace to believe that these supplications, 
which to-day are ascending to the throne of mercy 
from a whole country, are a real and powerful means 
of bringing that relief for which we pray. Too often, 
far too often, we offer prayer, really taking for granted 
that it will all go for nothing. Oftentimes, nothing 
would surprise us more than to find that our prayer 
was answered ! And very heartless the prayer will 
be that is offered so. There is a philanthropist, 
the kindest and most amiable of living philanthro- 
pists, who has done good unspeakable to many 
souls : but to some, never a kinder service than by 



The Cattle Plague. 



making them feel, by influence and example, the 
great reality there is in prayer. Yes, there is a 
moral atmosphere in which you feel, and wish you 
could feel always, that prayer is the great means to 
every right end. just the very last thing in prudence 
to be omitted, — the thing that makes you safe, 
because it will assuredly bring; either what you ask, or 
else the grace to do without it. Now, let us believe, 
and God help our unbelief, that our prayers, offered 
heartily through our Saviour, and added to our best 
skill and pains, may stay the plague, and ward off 
approaching famine from many homes. Now may 
the Holy Spirit help us to offer, not the heartless 
prayer that costs nothing, means nothing, and does 
nothing ; but the c effectual fervent prayer ' that 
' availeth much. 5 

The General Assembly has wisely restricted its 
exhortation to us, to matters about which there can 
be no doubt nor debate. And, as many of you are 
well aware, that is not so with the views of some 
very good Christian people about the afflictive dis- 
pensations of God's providence. There is a rough 
way of regarding these, which founds on a principle 
much more Jewish than Christian : a way of re- 
garding the afflictions which befall nations and 
individuals as judgments in the vulgar sense, that 
they are punishments sent by God upon these 
individuals and nations, and that not for some moral 
offence which all can see to be wrong, but very 



The Cattle Plague. 191 



likely for doing or perhaps thinking something which 
very wise and good people are persuaded to be per- 
fectly right. Thus, an ignorant and presumptuous 
minister in the North, declared authoritatively last 
Autumn, that the long dry weather which burnt up 
the pastures was a divine judgment or act of 
vengeance, sent because of the permission of organs 
to aid praise in some of our churches. Another 
individual has recently asserted, that the cattle 
plague comes as a punishment for various enact- 
ments of the General Assembly of the Church. 
And I have heard it stated, as by authority, that the 
potato disease in Ireland was* a judgment on account 
of that legislative emancipation of the Roman 
Catholics from cruel disabilities, which very saga- 
cious and excellent men esteemed as an act of 
common justice and common sense. Now, though 
we may say, generally, that all suffering is the con- 
sequence of sin, and so that, in a certain sense, all 
suffering is a judgment, still it is presumptuous, and 
all but blasphemous, for any uninspired man to say 
that the suffering which has fallen on an individual 
or a nation is a judgment for this or that. We look 
at all events, now, in the light of our Saviour's 
declaration, that those on whom the tower in 
Siloam fell were no a whit greater sinners than the 
other Galileans ( n whom it did not fall : and in the 
light of our Saviour's other declaration, that as for 
the poor man that was born blind, that heavy trial 



ig% The Cattle Plague. 



and burden was laid upon him neither for his own 
sin, nor for his parents' sin ; but that the works of 
God might be made manifest in him. I said that 
the presumptuous fashion of declaring that afflictive 
events are the punishment of this or that, founds 
on a Jewish idea. We have learned now, that 
'whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and 
scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.' As was 
well said by one of the greatest of thinkers, the 
illustrious philosopher commonly but wrongly called 
Lord Bacon : c Temporal prosperity was the bless- 
ing of the Old Testament, while temporal adversity 
is the promise of the New.' Throughout much of 
the Jewish history, temporal punishments were 
commonly sent upon sinners, and temporal pros- 
perity was the often-promised reward of a righteous 
life : and oftentimes it was so, that God sent not 
merely the event, but the authoritative explanation 
of it. Some prophet, or priest, was appointed by 
the Almighty to declare, with certainty, that the 
evil came from God, and why it came. And in- 
stead of what we sometimes see now, that when 
harvests fail, and pestilence comes, one set of 
religionists declare the judgment comes for one 
reason, and another set declare just as confidently 
that it comes for quite a different reason, there was 
some one near who could lift up a voice that no 
man could gainsay, and declare with God's own 
authority that the judgment came as the punish- 



The Cattle Plague. 193 



ment of such and such a sin. But as for us this 
day, we are not called to say what particular na- 
tional or individual sin has brought the cattle plague. 
We are called to remember that this^trouble, like 
all trouble, comes because of sin : that sure it is, 
had there been no sin, there would have been no 
pain nor sorrow : that this is something to remind 
us how bad a thing sin is, which brought this and 
all our woe : and then to remember further, that 
our own sins are many and grievous, and might 
well be visited by God in His wrath : that each of 
us has added his sorrowful share to the tale of the 
nation's guiltiness : and that each of us is solemnly 
called, by the pressure of the present calamity, to 
c know every one the plague of his own heart, 5 and. 
to turn to God in humble penitence. 

But, taking the Assembly's message to us for a 
guide, let us consider what thoughts of mind and 
exercises of heart are set before us as becoming: at 
this season. These are such as every Christian 
must feel to be meet and right. 

We are asked to acknowledge, to begin with, 
that this grievous plague, which no human skill has 
been able greatly to mitigate, has been sent by God 
in His all-disposing and sovereign providence. And 
surely we are all agreed here. Not even a sparrow 
falls without His notice and direction. And, doubt- 
less, the Creator and Preserver cares for oxen. 
Yes, this universe is governed with a tight rein : all 

o 



194 Tbe Cattle Plague. 



that happens to man or beast, for time or eternity, 
is ordered by God. Let us get rid of the fashion of 
talking of events as most providential — as if there 
were any that were less providential. Providential 
is an adjective that admits of no comparison. No- 
thing that happens in this world is more or less 
appointed by God than all the rest. All are His 
servants. He orders all events. His hand is every- 
where, if it is anywhere. He c fore-ordains what- 
> j 

soever comes to pass.' And vet, though we have 
all been taught that from childhood, you hear people 
speak as if God sometimes roused Himself, to inter- 
meddle with a machinery usually left to play by 
itself. You hear people speak as if an event's 
being providential, meant that it falls out as they 
would wish it to fall. And yet, when an eminent 
living philosophic statesman was hard by when a 
gun was by misadventure discharged, and when two 
pellets of the shot struck him exactly in the sight of 
each eve, and shut out the visible world from him for 
ever, that was just as providential as the soldier's 
deliverance whom a spent bullet would have killed, 
but that it was stopped by the Bible he carried in 
his breast. Mercy and judgment are alike provi- 
dential : we take them both from God : mercy (let 
us pray) with thankful joy \ judgment with thankful 
resignation : being well assured that if we are Christ's 
people, whether the way by w r hich God is leading us 
be dark or bright, still it is the right way. And we 



The Cattle Plague. 



*95 



are not driven from our simple faith that God sends 
us all that comes to us, by anything that can be said 
of second causes intervening between Him and us, 
or even of the intervention of human folly or crime. 
Man's mistakes and misdoings have doubtless con- 
tributed to the spread and fatality of the cattle plague. 
Want of observance of obvious natural laws : want 
of knowledge of such : want of simple precaution : 
the penning up of poor cows, as was common in Edin- 
burgh, in underground dungeons where they never 
had pure air to breathe, and never could exercise their 
weary limbs ; — these are doubtless among the things 
that brought the murrain ; — these are doubtless among 
the errors it is meant to punish ; and doubtless among 
the lessons it will teach, will be the lesson in all time 
coming to avoid these errors. But while it is abun- 
dantly childish to shut our eyes to such plain facts, 
it is something worse to stop at them. There are 
higher lessons to be learned to-day than those of 
worldly prudence and obedience to the physical laws 
of health : and beyond and above man's errors, igno- 
rance, and sinfulness, there is the Great First Cause. 
Or rather, — for I do not much favour that phrase 
of heathenish sound, — we have our kind Saviour 
speaking to us here, as in all the dealings of His 
Providence. W e are in the presence of a trouble, 
in a true sense sent by Him, this day. Either God is 
nowhere in His Government, or He is everywhere. 
Now, we are called to acknowledge God's hand 

O 2 



\g6 The Cattle Plague. 



in this sore calamity : to humble ourselves before 
Him under it : and to turn from our sins by a true 
repentance. The calamity comes home to us, the 
only subjects in this world of God's moral govern- 
ment, through the poor cattle, suffering for sins 
in which they have no part : as they have suffered, 
how heavily, in all ages, for man's sins ! Still, the 
calamity reaches man heavily enough : very heavilv 
it has reached a large class already ; and no doubt it 
remains that it be felt, in some degree, by all. My 
friends, there is a discipline of God's appointment 
always around us, which ought to lead us to repent- 
ance. God's goodness should do that : it ought not 
to need a cattle plague. c The goodness of God 
leadeth us to repentance : ' such ought to be its 
effect on the healthy soul. Our daily comforts and 
blessings, — home, food, rest, raiment, air to breathe, 
strength for our work and decent success in it, — 
all these free gifts of God's kindness and innume- 
rable more, ought to make us thankful to Him, 
make us always remember Him, make us penitent 
for that sin which is the expression of ingratitude 
towards Him. Yes, God's goodness would be quite 
enough, if we took our discipline rightly. But then, 
for one thing, so perverse are we, we often contrive, 
in the concerns of the spiritual world, as it were to 
sail against the wind : God's abounding goodness 
often is found to harden. So much is this so, that 
an eminent living divine has said — and to what he 



The Cattle Plague. 



197 



has said I venture not to say yes or no — that a life 
of unruffled outward prosperity is ever a mark of 
final reprobation.* And then, for another thing, it 
is the fact, that things always present with us lose 
their force to impress us. The waterfall ceases to 
be heard by those who live always within hearing of 
it. And God's goodness is so constant, — His com- 
passions so fail not, being new every morning, — that 
we are too apt to take them all as of course and 
never think of Him. Breaks are needed, and have 
often proved useful. Doubtless it is through our 
blindness and folly that they are needed, and are 
useful : but the fact is so. The Samaritan settlers 
thought of God when the lions came prowling about 
their dwellings, and devoured this neighbour and the 
other, f Now the rain from heaven and fruitful 
seasons, their food provided, rising and setting 
suns, ought to have made them think of God : but 
in fact, these things did not. We need breaks in 
our o^iet on-going. You know how it was written 
of some long ago, but long ago human nature was 
just human nature, c Because they have no changes, 
therefore they fear not God.' You remember, too, 
how it is recorded of ancient Moab, that everything 
went on with him so quietly and comfortably, — he 
had been at ease since his youth, — that he grew very 

* See Archbishop Trench's Notes on the Parable of the Rich Man 
and Lazarus. 

f See 2 Kings xvii. 25 sq. 



ig8 The Cattle Plague. 



godless, and thought very little of anything beyond 
the range of things seen and temporal. And then 
we all know how, in our own homes, seasons of 
great sorrow and bereavement are often times of 
spiritual awakening : grown men and women have 
been led to the Saviour by the thin hand of a dying 
child. The c much tribulation' has served a blessed 
purpose in quickening the steps and preparing the 
spirit towards the happier c kingdom of God.' And 
souls that when all went well with them were 
worldly, self-confident, and self-conceited, have, by 
sanctified sorrow, and disappointment, and bereave- 
ment, had wrought in them a resignation, a hu- 
manity, a sympathy, a quietness, a kindliness, a 
sweetness of nature, that gave assurance that saving 
faith in the Redeemer had been planted in their 
heart, and the Blessed Spirit of all good was dwell- 
ing there. And as times of trouble have been times 
of individual repentance and amendment, so doubt- 
less have they been of national. There is such a 
thing as the spirit of a whole nation being puffed up, 
insolent, and braggart : there has been such a thing as 
great and protracted trouble coming and humbling it; 
taking out the unworthy boastfulness^ and leaving 
a whole country more modest, manly, and truth- 
ful. I do not say that there is a whit more reason 
to repent, in the time of a sweeping cattle plague, 
than there is when the cattle on Britain's thousand 
hills are thriving and hearty, and when God by His 



The Cattle Plague. 199 



never-failing goodness is leading us to repentance. 
There is always good reason to repent as well as 
to-day: there is always reason enough. But then 
the startling and terrible novelty stirs our nagging 
attention. It is one of those changes of treatment 
and discipline which come with fresh effect. And 
let us thank God humbly for any discipline, how 
painful soever, that makes us more heartily do 
that which in the even tenor of life, when all goes 
quietly, we are prone to do so heartlessly and in- 
effectually ; even to c humble ourselves before God, 
and to turn from our sins by a true repentance ! ' 

And if God's Blessed Spirit help us, in this season 
of anxiety to all, sincerely to do this, then we shall 
get good out of the cattle plague. It will be to us 
one of those c all things ' for which it becomes us to 
'give thanks : ' one of those painful and humiliating 
blessings, which, sanctified by the Holy Ghost, do 
for Christ's people that which blessings of peace 
and prosperity could never do. Yes, if we be 
Christian people, all trouble that comes to us is a 
blessing, — for c all things work together for good to 
them that love God : ' but doubtless it is a blessing 
to be received lying in the dust of penitence and 
resignation, — a blessing as the fiery cautery is a 
blessing, excruciatingly painful, yet ultimately saving 
the precious life. And very fitly, this day, while we 
ask that the plague while it lasts may be made a 
means of spiritual good to us, we ask our Heavenly 



2,00 The Cattle Plague. 



Father too, that when it has done His work on us, 
it may be taken away. I trust, indeed, it is the wish 
of each of us, that God's will be done in us and 
about us : I trust that it is our daily prayer, not so 
much that God would give us what we wish, as 
that He would teach us, simply and completely, to 
submit our will to His, and that He would give us 
grace and strength to bear whatever He may send. 
Let us seek that the utterance of our hearts may be 
that of the blind Galileo ; who said, c It has pleased 
God that it should be so ; and it must please me 
too.' And yet, though all this be so, there can be 
no doubt that it is natural for us to wish, that it 
might please God to lead us by as easy and pleasant 
a way as may be : that it might please God to ap- 
point us as peaceful and happy a life as possible, and 
to send us just as little evil and sorrow as may 
suffice to work upon us the wholesome results of 
evil and sorrow. It would be quite uncandid to 
pretend anything other. And as for this pestilence, 
as for every other trouble, our prayer very fitly is, 
that it may please God to sanctify it while it lasts, 
and to take it away in His good time. 

And now, my friends, we are called this day 
truly to repent : it remains that each of us do so. 
Well, how shall we do so ? We cannot just make 
up our mind to be sorry, any more than to be joyful : 
all feeling must found upon fact. The only way 
to be sorry for our sins, is (by God's grace) to think 



The Cattle Plague. 



201 



of them ; to recall them, or rather some of them, for 

God onlv remembers them all ; to set them before 

us, and look at them ; and surely then we shall 

see good reason why we should be very humble, 

and very penitent. Yes, the Psalmist was right , 

when he put the intellectual step before the spiritual 

feeling ; saying, 4 1 will declare mine iniquity ; I will 

be sorry for my sin ! 9 And here, desiring by the 

Holy Spirit's help to be sorry for our sin, we ask 

Him to convince us of our sin ; to show us, clearly, 

that most certain fact, that we all offend in many 

things, and come short in all. Yes, let us think of 

our sins : our own sins, about which there can be 

no mistake ; and let each think for himself. I 

do not ask vou to-dav, as I feel how heavy is 
j j 3 j 

the responsibility of in any measure directing your 
thoughts in this trying time, — I do not ask you to 
think of national sins, of the misdoings of govern- 
ments and parliaments : for what some think wrong 
in these^ others think perfectly right. That aboli- 
tion, for instance, of our University Tests, which I 
have heard called a national denying of Tesus, wise 
and good Christian men have entirely approved. 
Nor do I ask you to think of ecclesiastical mis- 
doings : for there, too, good and conscientious men 
differ just as widely ; and it is mere common fairness 
to give opposing leaders credit for each acting as he 
thinks right; while our heart may well be sometimes 
oppressed enough to think such sad differences 
should be at all. And you cannot be penitent for 



A 



202 



The Cattle Plague. 



doing or thinking something, merely because some 
good men think it wrong. To be truly penitent for 
anything you have thought or done, you must see it 
to be wrong yourself. My friends, lee us turn from 
these debated matters, to some on which all Chris- 
tians are agreed. Let us think of our own personal 
sins, making up the sum of the nation's : and oh 
the sorrowful, humbling tale ! The follies from our 
youth : the many things we cannot remember but 
with burning shame ! Unkind, uncharitable thought : 
hasty, foolish, untrue, malicious word: envious, im- 
pure, discontented feeling : unfair, dishonest, mean 
purpose : and like inexcusable deed, crowning all : 
surely we need not look at it longer : there is sin 
enough to be sorry for this day. God be merciful 
to us sinners ! 

We take with us words, and turn to the Lord : 
saving unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and 
receive us graciously ; so will we render the sacri- 
fices of our lips. 

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit : a 
broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not 
despise. 

And in that day we shall say, O Lord, we will 
praise Thee : though Thou wast angry with us, 
Thine anger is turned away, and Thou com- 
fortedst us ! 



March 29. 1 366, 



303 



XII. 



EXPERIENCE. 

'I have learned by experience.' — Gen. xxx. 27. 

I THINK, my brethren, that most reflective peo- 
ple would feel that there is something suggestive, 
something that touches deeply, about these words. 
We are looking on at an interview which took place 
six-and-thirty centuries since : and on the lips of 
one of the speakers in it, we find a form of speech 
that is repeated, probably several times every day, — 
itself or its equivalent, — in every parish in Scotland. 
There are certain moods of the human mind, in 
which we find it appearing, alike beneath the blue 
sky of oriental climes and patriarchal ages, and in 
Fife in 1866 : alike beneath the Eastern caftan, 
and the home-spun plaid of the Scottish hills. Find 
men where you may, they all agree in owning that 
they owe much to the same Instructor : they all 
agree in owning that they have grown wiser for the 
teaching of that unflattering Preceptor, who knows 
no roval road to truth, and in whose stern school 
you must stumble once, that you may learn to avoid 



204 



Experience. 



falling again. And truly here is the best way to 
learn : the way that sinks the deepest, and is re- 
membered the best. And if it be true, as the 
proverbial saying would have it, that experience 
teaches the foolish, surely it is true no less that 
experience makes the wis 2. It is only in the school 
of actual trial, with its many failures, anticipations, 
and disappointments, that true and enduring wisdom 
is bred : and the best of instruction is to be ob- 
tained only traversing a long and weary way, wherein 
one sharp pang teaches us to avoid another like it, 
and by the way of eyes dim with weeping we are 
taught to shun bitter tears. And while the world 
yet was young — while still around its primeval hills 
and woods there hung the remembrances of Eden ; 
— while grand discoveries lay sleeping by hundreds 
in the great realm of the untrodden future ; — while 
yet steam, the slumbering giant, lurked untasked, 
and we might almost fancy smiled at man's puny 
efforts to do what it could have done without a 
struggle ; — while yet the subtle element that wings 
at lightning-speed with man's messages, w r as un- 
taught to yield to his rein ; — while all the innume- 
rable great results that the world's lengthened 
experience has borne to us, were unknown and 
unthought of 5 — we find one whose name and 
memory look dim across the waste of ages, saying 
as we might say, ( I have learned by experience ! 9 
And thus too we must learn. It is through c the 



Experience. 



205 



long result of time,' the experience accumulating 
on the earth's furrowed face, that the age learns : 
it is by experience growing in man's head and heart, 
that the individual learns. This is the ballast that 
steadies the soul, tossed upon the sea of life : this 
is as the precious freight that grows within, as over 
that perplexing sea, we day by day advance to our 
last haven : this is the rich vintage which man 
wrings, alike from the golden harvest of success, 
and from the thorns and thistles of disappointment 
and sorrow : as the growing corn draws nourish- 
ment alike from shower and sunshine, as the bee 
levies its tax alike upon the flagrant blossom, and 
upon the poison flower. 

And as experience is the teacher that instructs all 
men, and instructs them unthanked and unasked, 
so there are many things which no other can teach 
us : many lessons we never learn, and many matters 
we never rightly understand, till we have c learned 
by experience.' We shall never know, for ex- 
ample, what our hearts can feel and bear, by the 
descriptions of other people : no account can make 
us understand what great sorrow is, or great anxietv, 
or buoyant gladness, or hearty gratitude, or fixed 
determination : we must feel in ourselves the 
quickened pulse of hopefulness, the laden heart of 
care, the blankness of disappointment and failure ; 
or we shall never know what thev mean. And it 
should almost seem as if even knowledge that knows 



2c6 



Experience. 



everything, were insufficient, without actual trial, to 
take in what it is to be the poor weak creatures we 
are. To enter fully into our case, to know all that 
pain is, and all that temptation is, so as to be able 
thoroughly to sympathise with these, and with us 
who bear the pressure of these, our Blessed Re- 
deemer Himself must become man. St. Paul is 
not afraid to say, that c in all things it behoved Him 
to be made like unto His brethren, that He might 
be a merciful and faithful High Priest. For in 
that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He 
is able to succour them that are tempted.' Even 
He, our Maker, gained that consummate sympathy 
with us which it became our Saviour to have, through 
actual experience. 

But there is one class of subjects, one great 
subject, which above all others we must know by 
experience, or we shall not know at all. In the 
grand matter of religion, the only knowledge that 
is worth anything, is that which comes through 
what we have ourselves felt and known. Not but 
what we can easily enough acquire and repeat reli- 
gious phrases, whose depth of meaning we understand 
little, or not at all : but, oh, how hollow and worth- 
less all that is ! How unsafe the man must feel, 
who is saying, not what he knows to be true, but 
what he supposes is the right thing to say ! And 
here the most graphic description cannot serve us ; 
the most vivid imagination will not avail. It will 



Experience. 



207 



not save us, to fancy what faith in Christ is : it will 
not sanctify us, to imagine how the Holy Spirit works 
on the regenerated soul. Even that we may rightly 
understand things like these, we must try and prove 
them : and that we may draw from them that peace 
here and that rest hereafter which they are able to 
impart, there is just the one thing for us to do ; like 
Laban in the days of old, we must c learn by 
experience.' 

It would be a task that we should take long to 
complete, were we to set ourselves to think of all 
those matters bearing upon our spiritual and higher 
life, of which we must learn thus if we learn at all. 
All I ask you to do at present is to look at two or 
three things, which we never shall fully understand, 
or be thoroughly and permanently convinced of, till 
experience has assured us about them. And the 
first thing which suggests itself as one of these, is the 
Efficacy of Prayer. 

My brethren, this is a thing that is hard upon 
mere human reason ; this matter of the real power 
and efficacy of prayer. The man who doubts and 
denies that it can do anything more than cheer the 
poor deluded heart that offers it y seems at first to 
have the argument all his own way. We who pro- 
fess ourselves Christians believe, that when we kneel 
down and ask God to do a thing for the sake of 
Christ, we are actually putting a force upon God to 



20S 



Experience. 



make Him do the thing we ask. We believe, that 
our asking God to do it, is as real a means of making 
it be done, as the hardest work, the strongest exer- 
tion we ourselves could put forth to do it. Just see 
the extent to which our belief runs. e believe 
(if we believe in the efficacy of prayer at all), that 
the whispered words from a little child's lips, or the 
unbreathed desire in his heart, going up before God 
in the name of Christ, is an engine too might} 7 for 
vou to guage its power by that of hundreds of horses, 
as we do with our great engines : is a thing that can 
actually do more than all human wisdom and human 
might. We believe that prayer is a thing that can 
enlist God's strength on your side if you have to 
work, and God's wisdom if you have to decide and 
devise. If there be any truth in what we believe of 
the power of prayer, it is the mightiest agent, — save 
God Himself, — in all the universe : it is stronger 
than the hurricane that wrecks a navv : stronger 
than the great ocean to which man's mightiest 
works are as a plavthing. Christian brethren, let 
us frankly confess what a weak state, what an in- 
secure position we should be in, if we were taking 
all this on hearsay. Why, it looks such a truly 
monstrous deal to believe, that positively for your 
credit as a reasonable man, vou would be half ashamed 
to say vou fancied all this. Why, what are you to 
answer the caviller, when he comes and asks you if 
God the unchangeable can be changed in His pur- 



Experience. 



pose by your prayers : what are you to say to him 
when he comes and tells you that God's decrees are 
immutable, — that everything that was to happen was 
fixed and settled before time began, — and that the 
current of events must roll on in its sublime indiffer- 
ence, untouched and unaltered by any supplication 
of yours ? How are you to silence him when you 
are asked by him if you think God will falter in His 
purpose, or change His plan because you ask Him? 
I will tell you how. I will tell you the one way, 
by which heart and head may abide unmoved by 
any amount of theoretical difficulties and objections 
like these. Never concern yourself to unravel the 
threads the sceptic has twisted : never set yourself 
to answer by argument the objections he has raised. 
It can be done, but there is a far better way. Tell 
him that your Bible bids you pray, and assures you 
that prayer shall prevail : but tell him more, — and 
God be thanked if you can say so much, — tell him 
that you have put the matter to the proof ; — that you 
were not content to take the thing on the word 
of others;— that you fairly tried; — and that you 
'learned by experience' that prayer is heard and 
answered ! That is the right way to learn here. 
That will bring firmer conviction than a thousand 
arguments and a thousand witnesses : that will set 
your soul as on a rock, whence you can smile your 
calm defiance of all that men could say, or Satan 
could suggest, to unsettle your belief in the efficacy 



2JO 



Experience. 



of prayer. Spare your arguments, the humble 
Christian may say : Spare your objections : thev 
cannot shake me for one moment: for C I haye 
learned by experience' that God hears and answers 
prayer. I asked Him for strength in duty : and He 
gave me, I felt Kim give me, power to do that^ 
which by myself I never could have done. I asked 
Him tor patience in the cay of sorrow; and He 
made me strong and cheerful, in away that surprised 
myself, amid cares and losses that would have crushed 
my unsupported heart ! Many is the patient sufferer, 
oyer the face of this world of trouble, who could 
tell us this day, that the thing which sustained 
under long disease, and the utter blighting of every 7 
cherished hope of worldly usefulness and joy, was 
God's grace given in answer to constant praver. 
And if, in more trying days, you had asked the 
martyr, going cheerfully, like old Hugh Latimer, to 
the stake, and spurning the offer of mercy that was 
to be purchased by denying his Saviour and God's 
truth, — if vou had asked him if he verily believed 
that praver can craw down from above a virtue to 
raise the heart above the fear of man's utmost 
crueltv, — if he verily believed that prayer can bring 
from God a grace that shall make a man do that 
which without it he never could have done ; do you 
doubt for a moment that you might have heard from 
him, speaking the deep conviction of his soul in that 
extremity wherein all pretence is cast aside, such 



Experience. 



2,1 1 



words as those of the text, c I have learned that by 
experience J ' 

Another thing that we may learn by rote, but 
that we never shall really believe till we learn it by 
experience, is the insufficiency of this world to 
satisfy the soul ; the great truth, that c This is not 
our rest/ 

What myriads of youthful eyes have run over the 
sad sum of the Book of Ecclesiastes ; and seen in 
that solemn c Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, 
all is vanity;' only something that must in some sense 
be true because there it is in the Bible, but some- 
thing to which human hearts and hopes say No. 
The natural feeling of human beings, even when 
they know that the worldly things they have do not 
make them perfectly happy, is just this : ' Well, I 
do not feel happy now ; the worldly blessings I have 
got do not make me so ; but when I shall have at- 
tained such an end^ finished such a work, reached 
such an object of ambition or affection, I shall be 
quite happy then.' I need not say, brethren, that there 
is a real and great value in many earthly things, when 
they are kept in their just degree : and the declara- 
tion that' they all are vanity does not mean that 
no earthly end or object is worth anything at all, 
or that it is not worth man's while to wish or work 
for anything in this world. That is a conclusion 
which experience would contradict, and not teach : 



212 



Experience. 



What the meaning of Solomon's famous words is, is 
this : that earthly things altogether fail of satisfying the 
soul's deepest longings, and supplying its greatest 
wants; and that they are c vanity' when pursued 
as if they were all we need to make us right. It is 
only eternity, and the interests of the eternal world ; 
only the good part in Christ, and the precious com- 
munications of the Blessed Spirit ; that will bear to 
be sought in that fashion : and worldly things are 
shadow and not substance, vanity and not reality, 
when you think to satisfy with them the desires of a 
soul, which God has said must be thirsty till it find 
the living water, and restless till it find rest in Him. 
But even in this restricted sense, people in general 
do not truly believe that earth and earthly things are 
not worth the soul's greatest longings and endeavours, 
till they have learned it by experience : they do not, 
in most cases, turn to heavenly things till they have 
given a fair trial to earthly things : and what multi- 
tudes, even after that is done, continue to go to 
fountains which they know cannot satisfy the soul's 
thirst, just because they have gone so long, and got 
so into the habit of going, that a necessity seems laid 
upon them to go to those broken cisterns for ever ! 
For experience alone is enough to bring men to the 
strong belief, that all worldlv things, even when 
possessed in their intensest degree, leave an aching 
void within the soul : many a sated man of pleasure, 
many a successful man of ambition, has told us as 



Experience. 



213 



much as that : but it needs God's Holy Spirit to 
touch the soul, before it can take the next step, — 
before it can draw the final conclusion, — that the 
right things for the soul to love and seek are beyond 
the grave, and that the heart's true home and abiding 
treasure are there. Yes, experience can teach that 
earthly things are vanity : but unless that teaching 
be sanctified and carried home by the Blessed Spirit, 
the man to whom that lesson has been imparted, 
will just begin again to set his whole heart on some 
new earthly thing that he thinks has not yet had a 
fair trial; or, if he has too far lost the buoyant spring 
of spirit that is needed for a new hope and a new 
pursuit, will sink into a reckless inaction, a despair- 
ing apathy, that thinks nothing worth hoping or 
fearing or wishing for. But indeed it is strange to 
see how perseveringly the soul will cling to worldly 
things in spite of all disappointment : strange how 
after each repulse the world gives it, it goes back to 
the same ensnaring and befooling thing ! O brethren, 
may the Holy Ghost, by the means He judges best, 
lead us to choose a better portion ! We would not 
ask for the seared heart, and the affection nipped and 
blighted : we would not wish for that disgust, which 
has fallen to the lot of some, tried above the race, 
which pushes the world away, as something that has 
deceived once, and that shall not be suffered to do 
so again : we would not wish for experience here, 
so bitter to get, and so stinging to look back on : but 



214 



Experience. 



give us that gently-subdued heart, the portion of the 
best of our kind, on which past lessons of the world's 
vanity have sunk down, sobering rather than sad- 
dening it : which, though led by God's goodness to 
repentance, faith, and peace, has yet known its 
share of trouble and sorrow, disappointed hope, and 
humbling defeat. And amid that darkness, let the 
Blessed Spirit point us to another world, where that 
substance and reality shall be found, which here we 
seek in vain : and evermore let the lesson come 
back, which shall keep us from forgetting what we 
should remember so well : evermore let the fresh 
proof of earth's emptiness and fleetingness, sent in 
mercy by Him who knows us and loves us, keep 
our souls up to the mark of realizing that this is not 
our home : so that, when God's voice or man's 
reminds us that our true rest must be above, we 
may give that great truth the ready and the meek 
assent, because we have 'learned it by experience ! ' 

I forewarned you that you were not to expect, in 
the limits of a single discourse, anything like a full 
consideration of all matters connected with our 
Christian faith, which are best learned, or only 
learned, by actual trial. There are two grand facts, 
which we are never fully assured of, till personal 
experience has convinced us of them ; but these I 
just name. One is, the deceitfulness of our own 
hearts : the little reliance we can put in ourselves, 



'Experience. 



our own good resolutions, our own serious im- 
pressions, our own devout moods ; and another is 
the reality and actuality of the working of the Holy 
Spirit upon our souls. Not without feeling that in 
their very selves, can men rightly believe and com- 
prehend that mysterious but most real influence by 
which they are regenerated and sanctified. God be 
thanked for all here who have that testimony within 
themselves, that assures them they are indeed the 
temples of the Holy Ghost ; that He, in sober 
truth, warms their heart and quickens their remem- 
brance when they pray : that He comforts them in 
sorrow, enlightens them in perplexity, helps them in 
duty : and that, in simple fact, when they go to Him 
with any trouble, and tell Him all about it at the 
throne of grace,, specially directing their prayer to 
Him, as we all ought to do more frequently, they 
come away calmed, soothed, and cheered. 

But we shall give the remainder of our time to 
looking at one great fact which is best learned by 
experience : I mean the preciousness, the all- 
sufficiency, the love and grace, of our Blessed 
Saviour. 

You remember it is written, c Unto you which 
believe He is precious.' Now that seems to mean, 
that to those who believe, He is more precious than 
He is to other people ; that, in a peculiarly strong 
sense, His preciousness is a thing that must be 
learned by experience. So it is. And it is easy to 



2l6 



Experience. 



see how it must be. For, the value of a thing is 
understood fully onlv 'by those who know how 
much they want it. And if a man feels that he does 
not want a thing, — that he can do perfectly well 
without it, — why, he will esteem it as of very little 
value indeed. Now a perfectly worldly and un- 
converted man feels he needs food : he cannot do 
without it ; and so of course he sets a value on it. 
He feels he needs a home to dwell in : he cannot 
do without that ; and so of course he sets a value 
on it. He feels he needs friends : that life would 
be a poor, heartless thing without them ; and so he 
sets a value on them. But the quite worldly and 
unconverted man, who brings everything to a quite 
worldly estimate, does not feel he needs Christ : he 
never feels any want of Him : he thinks he can do 
quite well without Him \ and of course he sets no 
value on Him ; of course the Saviour is not 
precious to that man : how can He be ? Now, 
my friends, think. Say you have some work to do : 
You have to get up a thorough knowledge of some 
detail of business ; and when you are thinking how 
you are to do it, a man comes and offers you a great 
mass of information upon a totally different subject, 
— something miles away from what concerns you 
then. Now, you don't thank the man for that. 
You don't want it. It is not of the slightest use to 
you. It will not help you on a step in the work 
you are at. Well, just in like manner, God comes \ 



Experience. 



217 



and by His providence, His word, His ministers, 
He offers Christ and His salvation to a worldly 
man, one whose whole heart and thoughts are taken 
up with the things of time and sense. You tell 
such a one Christ is precious. Yes, to those who 
want Him ; not to those who do not. What use 
would He be of to me, thinks the worldly man. I 
am busy about various things. I am trying to make 
money : He will not help me in that. I am trying 
to gain standing and recognised position : He 
will not help me in that. There is not a thing 
I care about in which He will help me ; and 
therefore I do not want Him and His salvation. I 
do not mean that a man would say these words ; 
but that is practically the process that goes on in 
his mind. It is because the unconverted man 
practically thinks so, that he remains an unconverted 
man. To the man who does not believe, Christ is 
not precious, because that man feels no want which 
Christ supplies. But, brethren, look to the man 
who has been convinced of his sin and misery by 
the Spirit of God : who has been roused from that 
dead dream, in which by nature we all sleep our 
time away : who has been made to feel that he is 
walking over eternal ruin, with just the breath in his 
nostrils to keep him out of it ; and that only our 
Redeemer can save us from that dismal estate : and 
see what he thinks of Christ ! Yes, that convicted 
sinner has found his need of the Saviour. He has 



2i8 Experience. 

learnt that food and raiment, and all things men 
work hardest for and value most, are not the one 
thing needful, — are worth nothing when compared 
with a saving interest in the Blessed Lamb of God. 
Or, go on a little further. Look to the same man, 
after, by the Holy Spirit's teaching, he has been 
brought to truly believe on Christ : after from the 
turbulent tossings of that tide of deep conviction 
and alarm upon which the first right view of his 
sins had cast him, he has found peace in the quiet 
anchorage of simple faith in the crucified Redeemer : 
after he has found the ever-craving want of the soul 
supplied, and the awful danger averted ; and ask 
him now whether Christ be precious or no ! He 
has c learned by experience ! ' He has felt a want, 
felt that the Saviour alone could supply that want : 
and he knows what Christ is worth, by what Christ 
has done ! He knows the value of the great 
salvation, as the wayfarer, strayed in the burning 
desert, with fevered blood, and black-baked lips, 
knows the worth of the fresh cool saving spring ! 

Yes, when a human being feels how T much he 
needs Christ ; — how utterly impossible it is for us to 
do v/ithout Christ ; — then it is he knows how c pre- 
cious' the Saviour is : how much worth is an interest 
in His atoning sacrifice and all-prevailing interces- 
sion. Hearsay will not do. The testimony of others 
is in many things well enough : but in this matter 
of life and death, God grant to each of us to know 



'Experience. 



219 



by his own experience ! Doubtless you may, in 
excellent phrases, count up our reasons for thinking 
priceless value of the salvation that is in Christ : 
reminding us how to Him we owe the pardon of all 
our sins, and the sanctiiication of our corrupted 
nature ; all our comfort here, all our peace 
hereafter : but not till we have tried for ourselves, 
and felt what Christ has done for our own sin- 
ful souls : till the Holy Spirit, convincing us of 
our sin and misery, and enlightening our minds in 
the knowledge of Christ, has persuaded and enabled 
us to embrace Him, freely offered in the gospel : 
till we have known the good hope through grace 
that our sins are indeed forgiven, and felt duty 
turning easier and temptation weaker through the 
growth of grace : not till then shall we know the 
value of Him through whom we gain every spiritual 
as every temporal blessing. 

I think I see the steady equanimity of temper 
with which the true Christian, who has tried for 
himself, and judged by the trial he has made, can 
listen to the manifold sceptical suggestions of a too 
sceptical age. Such a one has c a reason of the 
hope that is in him ' that speculative objections and 
difficulties cannot touch, and far less shake. Not 
on argument, not on testimony, founds his strong 
belief. Like the great Apostle, he trusts, and rea- 
sons from, his own experience : saying 4 I know 



2ZO 



Experience. 



whom I have believed ; and am persuaded that He 
is able to keep that which I have committed unto 
Him, against that day ! ' 

And who is it, then, my brethren, that in the best 
and noblest sense of the memorable and familiar 
words, can take them up : who is it that can say 
most truly, that he has c learned by experience ? ' 
Is it the man with grey hair and keen anxious look, 
that has hived wisdom through long years of close 
observation of his kind, and of deep thought upon 
their ways and doings : and who knows so well how 
to extricate himself from every difficulty, to turn 
all events to advantage, to speak just at the right 
time, and then say just the right words : to curb all 
haste and impatience : and all this with an eye to 
the steady aim of gaining worldly wealth, influence, 
and reputation ? Is it he that may plume himself 
on his superiority to the flighty youthful spirit, that 
stumbles as it goes, and learns sharply and slowly 
what helps and what harms, forms the unwise reso- 
lution, takes the hasty step, utters the ill-judged 
observation ? Nay, my friends, let us not accord 
to such a one the true use of these, when rightly 
understood, most solemn words of which we have 
thought to-day. And seeking one to whom their 
use may be justly accorded, let us turn from the 
veteran statesman and the merchant prince, from 
the judge and the philosopher, wise, and keen, and 
able as such may be ; and come to the lowly bed, 



Experience. 



221 



where there has lain for years, not many but long, 
one, visited with sanctified affliction bv the mvste- 
rious will of God \ and who, though little versed in 
the ways of mere worldly wisdom, has learnt that 
hardest of lessons, that all things here are to the 
immortal soul like passing shadows* and that the 
world of reality and substance spreads beyond the 
grave ; that' the Blessed Saviour can support the 
soul in deepest suffering and deprivation ; and the 
Blessed Spirit sanctify and comfort through all : 
that whom the Lord loves He oftentimes chastens 
sorely, ripening His own, through much tribulation, 
for the better Kingdom of God. Not in vain have 
the weary hours dragged slowly over that sufferer's 
thorny bed : not in vain has pang after pang broken 
down the buoyancy of that once hopeful spirit : not 
in vain has the brow been early furrowed, and the 
hair early gray : if so by this hard school-work that 
supreme, all -comprehending lesson has been im- 
pressed, that heaven is the place for human affections 
to centre, and the Saviour the Friend for human 
hearts to love. Place them side by side, the child 
and the sage ! The sharp, astute worldling \ and 
the fragile form, old in the discipline of sanctified 
sorrow, though young in worldly years : and let 
God and angels tell us, — if it be needful that they 
should tell, — which it is that has the best right and 
the most reason to take up the words of my text, 
and to say, c I have learned by experience ! ' 



222 



XIII. 



TRUTH IN LOVE. 

'Speaking the truth in love.' — Ephes. iv. 15. 

T? VERY one here knows how much depends 
■*-- / on the way in which a thing is done. You 
may do a substantially kind thing in such an un- 
gracious manner, that the person to whom you do 
it will rather feel irritated, and wounded, and sorry 
that he needs to take any favour from you, than 
grateful and obliged to you. And, unhappily, there 
are in this world some really good and Christian 
people, who are so unsympathetic, — so devoid of 
the power of entering into the feelings of others, 
and so regardless of the feelings of others, — that 
when they do a kindness to anybody, and especially 
to a poor person, they do it much in the way in 
which you would throw a bone to a hungry dog. 
You will sometimes find a real desire to do good, 
alloyed with so much fussiness, so much self- 
sufficiency, and such a tendency to fault-finding, 
that so far from good being done, a great deal of 
mischief follows. Then, on the other side, you may 



Truth In Love. 



have known men and women, who had so much 
Christian wisdom, and such a gift of sympathy and 
tact, that even in doing a severe thing, — even in 
finding serious fault, or declining to grant some 
request, — they were able to make a friend for life 
of the person they were obliged to reprove or to 
deny. Let me say, that though all this be in 
some measure a matter of original constitution and 
of fine training, we ought to regard it mainly as 
one of the good gifts of the Holy Spirit : and ask 
Him for it daily. You will every one have to hold a 
great deal of intercourse with your fellow- creatures. 
And it is of the operation of the Holy Ghost, 
whether or not that intercourse shall be pleasant and 
profitable both to you and to them. And this is not 
a small matter. It is a very grave question, whether 
a professing Christian is to be an epistle in com- 
mendation of our holy religion, or not. But, even 
if it were less grave, see to it, my friends, that you 
do not get into the way of thinking that as for great 
and important graces, — as for faith and hope and 
love, — you must attain them by the working of the 
Holy Spirit ; but that as for lesser ones, you can 
manage by yourselves, you can do without Him ! 
Just fix this in your hearts : that there is nothing 
good about you in thought, feeling, word, or deed, 
whether great or small, that is not the gracious doing 
of our blessed and kindly Sanctifier and Comforter. 
Especially is all this that has been said true in the 



Truth In Larue. 



matter of speaking the truth. There are many ways 
in which a man may speak that. 

You may speak the truth with the view of in- 
sinuating falsehood. It was so, when the Pharisees 
said of our Blessed Lord, c This man receiveth 
sinners.' For though there never was more com- 
fortable and certain truth spoken, those ill-set and 
dishonest persons meant to convey that our Redeemer 
had a favour for bad people, and a sympathy with 
evil. Then you may speak the truth in envy. It 
was so, when the Pharisees saw Christ going as a 
friend into the house of the publican Zaccheus ; thev 
murmured, saying ' That he was gone to be guest 
with a man that is a sinner.' Just as if He could 
have gone to be guest with any man that was not ! 
The Pharisees grudged the poor publican his re- 
pentance. It was quite true, what they said ; but 
it was the truth spoken in envy that the poor out- 
sider was to be brought within the fold. Then vou 
may speak the truth in pure malignity : from a desire 
to give pain, combined with certain coarseness of 
nature. It is commonly so with that class of persons 
who make a boast of speaking their mind, which 
usually consists in telling anybody something that he 
will not like to hear. Let me say, in passing, that 
such persons should be put down, as pests of society. 
Thev are not by any means actuated by love to 
truth ; but bv a malicious desire to annov those 
around them. 



Truth in Love. 



22$ 



Now St. Paul tells us in the text, How Christian 
people are to speak the truth. There are few texts 
in Holy Scripture more profitable for c reproof, cor- 
rection, and instruction in righteousness.' c Speaking 
the truth in love.' It is indeed sad to think how 
great a part of the truth spoken in this world is 
spoken in just the opposite way : not spoken in 
love, but in bitterness. For it is a beautiful com 
bination — truth with love. It makes the truth 
infinitely pleasanter to hear; but that is a small 

matter. It makes the truth infinitely more efficient 

j 

to do its work. Truth, spoken in love, has incom- 
parably greater force to do good, — to direct people, 
to mend people, — than truth spoken in severity, 
even though it be spoken with good intentions. 

If a minister, in preaching the Gospel, assume a 
severe, harsh, overbearing manner, then, though 
what he speaks be God's truth, his chance of really 
doing good to those who hear him is greatly 
diminished. If he addresses the congregation of 
hearers, as though they were outside sinners, worse 
than himself : if he set out the solemn truths that 
by nature we are all lost sinners, — that before each 
of us there is an eternity of joy or woe. — that the 
only salvation is in Christ, and oui only strength 
and goodness through the Blessed Spirit ; if he set 
all this out harshly, speaking the truth in bitterness 
and severity, after the hideous model of that old 
Puritan preacher across the Atlantic, who preached 



22,6 



Truth in Love. 



a sermon about a poor woman he had got burnt as 
a witch, and expressed in it a fiendish satisfaction, 
much liker Moloch than any human being, that the 
poor witch had (as he expressed it) c gone howling 
out of one fire into another ; 5 then I venture to say 
that such a preacher, though every sermon he 
preached should set out the whole scheme of 
Christian doctrine, would do very little good indeed. 
He might terrify some weak minds into accepting 
anything he taught them ; but the noblest sprits in 
his flock, unless they rejected his teaching alto- 
gether, would probablv be repelled into open infi- 
delity. The like has been, my friends ; as many 
of you doubtless know. Then it need hardly be 
said, that if any man speak Gospel truth in care- 
lessness, — as though not much impressed by it 
himself, and not caring much whether people 
receive it or not ; or if he speak it in an angry 
manner, scolding, — as if it pleased him to find faults 
and point them out ; it is unlikely that good will be 
done. You may tell people their faults in such a 
way as merely to irritate the people : you may tell 
them their faults in such a way as may lead them 
penitently to seek to mend their faults \ and the 
difference will generally turn upon this, Whether 
the truth be spoken in love, or in severity and 
unkindness. And I am sure that all of us here 
know (for we have all been children ourselves) that 
when you desire to tell children of their faults, you 



Truth in Love. 



227 



will never do any good if the little things think you 
want to vex them. I think that there are injudicious 
parents who, in dealing with their children, younger 
or older, forget that while children owe a duty to 
their parents, the parents owe just as real a duty to 
their children ; and that while the command is, 
c Children, obey your parents in the Lord, 5 there 
immediately follows the other command, c And ye, 
fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.' Now, 
there is not a thing that is more certain to provoke 
children, and grown-up people too, to wrath, than 
the truth in the way of fault-finding, spoken in un- 
kindness ; as if you were pleased to have an oppor- 
tunity of finding fault ; as if you were pleased to 
have discovered a sensitive spot where a blow will 
be keenly felt. And yet, we have all seen a great 
deal too much of that : we have known ill-set and 
coarse-souled persons who rejoiced in being able to 
cast up to a neighbour something painful to hear, 
and all the more painful that it was unquestionably 
true. I have known a malignant human being 
throw in the face of tv/o poor broken-hearted 
parents the certain truth, that their son had fallen 
into sin and shame, and been compelled to fly his 
native land ; and I have thought that truth may 
sometimes be spoken in a way that shows the very 
spirit of the devil in the individual that speaks it. 
And if, in finding fault with people, young or old, 
you show that malignant exultation at having found 



228 



Truth hi Love. 



a sore subject ; at having found the place where 
a touch v/ill always make the poor creature 
wince, in the wretched remembrance of some- 
thing wrong or foolish, — it need hardly be said 
that the truth spoken in that fashion will never do 
good, but evil. But oh how different it is, if the 
truth be spoken in love, as St. Paul would have it ! 
May the truth always be spoken in love, my friends, 
by you and me ! When in correcting the little 
faults of your children, you make them feel that 
you love them : that you have no .pleasure in fault- 
finding, and dwelling on their little errors : that you 
would never find fault at all if you could help it : 
that it is worse for you than for them : that it is 
just because you love them so much, and are so 
anxious that they should be good and happy, that 
you say a severe word at all ! That is the thing 
that will melt and mend the heart, that harshness 
and trying to vex would only harden and embitter. 
And it is just the same way with all human beings ; 
for what are they all but children of a larger growth ? 
If the Christian minister speaks the truth in love : 
if he speaks as one who is preaching to himself as 
much as to any other, and who knows he needs to 
be reminded of all truth as much as any other : 
if he speaks with that humility wherewith we all 
should be clothed, and with a heart full of kindly 
affection towards the flock intrusted by God to him : 
pointing out errors to be corrected in no fault-finding 



Truth in Love. 



229 



spirit, and setting forth the terrors of God's law as 
one whose best prayer is that every one who hears 
should flee unto Jesus and be safe from them : oh, 
how much more likely it is that the truth so 
spoken will go home to the heart, and be honoured 
by God's good Spirit as the means of converting, 
edifying, and comforting ! Yea, my Christian 
friends, here is the sound rule for our speaking the 
truth in all circumstances through all our life. If 
we want truth to be efficient : if we want it to get 
home to people : if we want it to do good : if we 
want it to do what is the grand ultimate end of all 
truth, — to draw poor sinful creatures like us to 
Christ and salvation ; then let us pray that God's 
Blessed Spirit teach us and help us and constrain us 
to go through all our pilgrimage, c speaking the 
truth in love ! ' 

I daresay many now present are aware of the 
curious way in which my text was written by St. 
Paul himself in the language in which he wrote it. 
He put the thing more forcibly than we have it in 
our Bibles ; using an idiom which cannot be rendered 
well in our English tongue ; at least in a single 
word. St. Paul referred to all conduct, as well as 
to speech. And he meant more than the mere 
cultivating of a truthful spirit. If we were literally, 
though awkwardly, to translate his words, they would 
be truthingit in love;* that is, thinking, speaking, and 

* a\r\BavovTES iu aydirr]. 



220 



Truth in Love. 



doing the truth in love. There is our duty, Christian 
friends. May the Spirit of all Truth lead us into 
all truth, and enable us to set it forth and show it 
accordingly ! 

Now let us think a little of our duty in regard 
to the first of the two things which are to be 
combined — truth and love. Let us think of what 
is implied by speaking and living the truth. 

Of course some things here are very plain. 
Every little child knows what is meant by speaking 
the truth ; and anything like trying to define that 
simple fact would only perplex it. Yet how truly 
it has been said by a very thoughtful writer, that 
c each man has to fight with his love of saying to 
himself and those around him pleasant things, and 
things serviceable for to-day, rather than the things 
which are.' ' Often it seems as if a little misre- 
presentation would gain a great good for us ; or, 
perhaps, we have only to conceal some trifling thing, 
which, if told, might hinder unreasonably, as we 
think, a profitable bargain. The true man takes 
care to tell, notwithstanding.' * My friends, these 
are simple matters, the very foundations of common 
honesty. I am sure no one within these walls 
needs more than to be reminded of them. Yet 
there are many professing Christians who fall de- 
plorably short here. But what says St. Paul else- 
where of a plain test of any Christian's profession ? 

* Friends in Council, vol. i. Essay on Truth, 



Truth hi Love. 



c We have renounced,' says he to the Corinthians, 
speaking in the name of ail saints, c the hidden 
things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor 
handling the word of God deceitfully ; but by 
manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to 
every man's conscience in the sight of God.' And 
elsewhere the same great Apostle declares that 
c The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and 
righteousness and truth.' If these words mean 
anything, they mean that little bits of untruth to get 
money, or to get credit, or to smoothe things over ; 
a servant's story to her mistress to conceal a fault ; 
a trader's misrepresentation to the end of making 
greater profit ; are terrible indications of something 
wrong at the very heart of the spirit's life. And 
in comparison with a matter like that, it is a small 
thing to say that honesty is the best worldly policy, 
which I confess I doubt : it is better to hold by 
this, that not prayer is more vital to our religion than 
truthfulness. If dishonesty, unrepented and un- 
forsaken, is to lose the soul, it does not matter at all 
though it gain something of this world. We know 
on the highest Authority that there is no profit there. 
So we take the text as reminding us, that as pro- 
fessed disciples of Jesus, Truth, Life, and Way, we 
are to be faithful in all our dealings with our fellow- 
men. There is to be no trickery ; no indirect 
conduct; none of that petty diplomacy which some 
people think such a proof of astuteness and wisdom. 



Truth in Love. 



There is to be no taking advantage of the ignorance 
or simplicity of other people : we are faithfully to 
keep engagements and promises : we are to re- 
present the sayings and doings of others with scrupu- 
lous fairness. And all this, not as a question of 
morality, of sound ethics : I am not preaching 
morality to you to-day ; I am preaching the Gospel : 
all this because Christ requires it, because the Holy 
Ghost works it ; because it is a thing that goes 
to the vital question, Whether we have believed 
in Jesus and are saved, or no. c Believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved \ 9 but 
if you have believed, you will be seeking to live a 
life that is pure and true. And you will remember 
how severely Sc. Paul wrote of those whose pro- 
fession was fair, but whose life belied it; saying of 
such that c They profess that they know God ; but 
in works they deny Him ! ' 

We come to difficult matters, thinking of the 
believer's duty of speaking the truth. At this point 
of our meditation, we come to the question, To 
what degree is a Christian man bound to speak the 
truth when it will be disagreeable, in the way of 
finding fault ? Here is a matter for that Christian 
prudence we must ask from the Holy Spirit. We 
must avoid the extreme of cowardly appearing to 
acquiesce in wrong for fear of giving offence : and 
we must avoid the other extreme of needlessly 



Truth In Love. 



233 



blurting; out whatever is in us, regardless of the 
pain this may cause. 

No doubt, in this world, flatterers, — that is, 
people who say what is pleasant though it be not 
true, — are often favourites : and w T e do not find 
that plain downright honesty is the way to gain 
favour or success. And yet, if it were fairly put 
to you, you would wish your friend to be sincere : 
interested in your spiritual welfare : ready to pray 
for you : one whose whole intercourse with you 
would do you the best good, — good to your never- 
dying soul. Now, all these things about him would 
be sure to make him sometimes tell you you were 
doing wrong. For we all know and confess we 
often do wrong \ we know, if God's good Spirit 
has enlightened us at all, how much sin, frailty and 
misery, are in these poor weak hearts : and oh, we 
should take it kindly when our faults are kindly 
pointed out to us. We cut ourselves off from a 
great help- in mending them, if we do not suffer 
that ! But it is indeed unhappy, that the truth in 
this direction is often spoken out freely ; but not 
spoken in love. Indeed, disagreeable truths are 
seldom in actual life spoken in love. They are 
sometimes spoken to the verv end of mortifying and 
wounding ; and it is no justification of one who has 
spoken in that spirit, that all he said is quite true. 
There has been such a thing as a professing Chris- 
tian of high pretension saying to a gay, thoughtless 



^34 



Truth in Love. 



young person, c Your heart is hardened : your con- 
science is asleep : I'll pray for you :' saying all that 
(which was all quite true), in so malignant a tone, 
that it was as bad to bear as a blow or a stab. Ah, 
brethren^ that is not the way to win souls to Christ 
and salvation ! That is the way to harden and to 
repel. And it is so, just because though it be c speak- 
ing the truth,' it is not c speaking the truth in love.' 

Thus we are led back to the second great charac- 
teristic, which is to be in the Christian's heart, 
speech, and life. That is love. And if love be the 
fulfilling of the Law : if faith, hope, and love be the 
three great Christian graces, but love the chiefest of 
all ; we need not wonder that our truth is to be 
leavened with love, like everything else we do. In 
all explaining Christian truth, — which is especially 
the truth, — to those who aie ignorant of it or 
careless about it : in every endeavour we make to 
lead to Jesus those we fear have never come to 
Him yet : though we may be constrained to speak 
stern verities as to an eternity which must be one 
either of happiness or of misery, — and as to a fallen 
nature and a sinful heart, and a life every day of 
which is dark either with transgression or with 
shortcoming, — as to pardon only through our 
Blessed Redeemer's atoning sacrifice, and as to 
purity and truth and goodness within, as the work 
of God's Holy Spirit alone, and never the na- 
tural growth of that evil soil where tares grow 



Truth in Love. 



235 



so readily and the fruits of the Spirit so slowly, — 
though these humbling truths must be told, that go 
so against the grain of our self-righteous nature, 
oh let them be spoken in love, as by one who 
desires to save and bless, not to hurnble and torture \ 
and let them be spoken in humility, as by one who 
knows that in God's sight he is the chief of sinners, 
— and that if there be in him any good thing, it is 
all of the undeserved grace of God. Oh Christian 
friends, when a soul has been awakened, and con- 
vinced of sin : when it is just hesitating between 
Christ and the world : when its eternal state is 
trembling in the balance \ it may just decide the 
momentous question, Saved or Lost ? whether 
the truth be spoken in that love which draws to 
Jesus, or in that severity which drives into reckless 
despair f 

Yes, let the two things always go together : 
Truth and Love. Truth, without love, will fail 
to do what God meant it for : and love, without 
truth, would flatter the soul into a false peace, 
from which the waking would be in woe. Truth 
is the stern hard thing, like the bare branches of 
winter : Love is the softener and beautifier, like 
the green foliage on the summer tree. If you show 
that you love people, you may tell them truths that 
condemn them, and yet awaken no bitterness : you 
may show them how wrong they are, and only make 
them thankful to you for setting them right. There 



2$6 



Truth in Love. 



is an irresistible charm about pure simple good-will 
and kindness : they will carry truth straight to most 
hearts : touching and winning the little child that 
unerringly knows them in the kind face and the kind 
voice ; taming into courtesy (they have done it) an 
unruly mob of riotous men, who yet could not stand 
against God's truth spoken with a kindness and a 
wisdom that were half-angelic. Make people feel 
you love them, and wish them well here and here- 
after : and they will stand a great deal of home 
truth from you ; you may be sure of that. But you 
will never convince a person by angry threats, and 
unfair arguments ; by misrepresenting what he 
says and does, and by refusing to give him credit 
for what good there is in him. When we have 
occasion to speak of the way of salvation to any 
fellow-sinner, let us speak it plainly : we dare not 
soften the angles nor tone down the colours : we 
must speak it as God has told it us, and not even 
wish or hope that it may prove (after all) to be 
something different from that. But while thus 
speaking the truth, and nothing more nor less than 
the truth, let us pray that by the grace of the Blessed 
Spirit, we may be found 'speaking the truth in 
love!' 

^ ould you wish for further reason why we should 
do so, than that it will be the happier way for speaker 
and hearer ; and that thus God's truth will be like- 
lier to do God's work on the soul to whom you speak 



Truth hi Love. 



237 



it ? Then let me suggest this one : % that because 
you are yourself such a poor sinner, guilty and help - 
less, and owing everything you have to God's free 
mercy in Christ, it well becomes you to show 
freely to others the mercy God has so freely shown 
to you. Surely, it will not do for us, having been 
forgiven (as we trust) our debt of ten thousand 
talents, to speak severely to a poor fellow-sinner, 
who owes us a hundred pence ! Well may we seek 
to walk in love, and speak in love, seeing we owe 
to God's love everything ! For God so loved us, 
as to send His Son to die for us : and our whole 
history, if we be Christian people, is a record of the 
doings of that love of Christ, which passeth know- 
ledge. You may remember those beautiful lines of 
the good archbishop,* that so truthfully trace to that 
every step in the salvation of every sinner : 

Love found me in the wilderness, at cost 
Of painful quests, when I myself had lost. 

Love on its shoulders joyfully did lay 
Me, weary with the greatness of my way. 

Love lit the lamp, and swept the house all round, 
Till the lost money in the end was found. 

Love the King's image there would stamp again, 
Effaced in part, and soiled with rust and stain. 

' Twas Love whose quick and ever watchful eye 
The wanderer's first step homeward did espy. 

From its own wardrobe Love gave word to bring 
What things I needed, — shoes, and robe, and ring. 
* Trench. 



238 Truth in Love. 

Now, if all that be God's truth (and you all 
know that it is), how shall we speak the truth but 
in love to any mortal ? As we think of the weight 
of care and sorrow which God lays upon most 
people, and of the heavier weight of sin that rests 
on all, till the kind Redeemer takes it away, oh 
what reason there is to feel pity and kindness towards 
every human being — and all the more for those who 
fancy they least need these ! Do you ask how we 
are to reach this love, that ought to leaven all our 
speaking, thinking, feeling, and being -> how we are 
to cast out the poor enmities, jealousies, irritations, 
and self-conceits, that often make people speak the 
truth in anything but love, and hear the truth in 
anything but a loving spirit ? The answer to that 
question is ready: and one plain inspired declaration 
is as good as twenty : listen to St. Paul's words : 
c The love of God ' (and that^ you know, brings 
along with it love to man) c is shed abroad in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.' 
You see, my friends, to whom we are to apply, if 
you would attain this precious grace : just to the 
same kind and blessed Spirit who works all grace in 
Christ's people. Go to Him : and ask Him to weed 
out of your hearts all perverse, unholy, evil affection: 
all irritability, all impatience, all hatred, malice, and 
uncharitableness : all desire to say a hard word to 
wound ; all wish to vex or pain a poor fellow- 
creature, who, you may be sure, has quite enough 



Truth in Love. 



239 



to bear already ; — who often feels beaten enough, 
without any unkind blow from you. And ask Him, 
too, to plant in His own blessed fruit; even c love, 
joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 
meekness, and temperance.' For then your kindly 
words will fall upon hearts that are sorrowful, dis- 
appointed, and perplexed, gently as the dew : They 
will bless you that speak, and them to whom they 
are spoken : They will be such as our beloved 
Redeemer Himself would speak, if He were here 
again. You all remember how as earnest a preacher 
of Christ's gospel as ever lived* desciibed the best 
and highest tone to which human words can reach, 
when they tell of truths the most momentous ; c I 
spoke as though I ne'er should speak again : And 
as a dying man to dying men ! ' And how and what 
then, my friends, must the good man have spoKen ? 
Surely, as God liveth, he must have ' spoken the 
truth in love ! ' 

* Ricbsxc Baxter. 



240 



XIV. 

TRUTHS OVERLOOKED BECAUSE OF 
THEIR OBVIOUSNESS. 

c I could not see for the glory of that light.'' — Acts xxii. u. 

TT 7"E need some light in order that we may see ; 

* * but too much light prevents us from seeing at 
all The very same thing, a lesser degree of which 
is essential to the exercise of our sight, when it 
comes in an excessive degree, blinds us. In total 
darkness, we cannot see for want of light ; and 
there is also such a thing as that we cannot see, be- 
cause there is too much of it. Bury a man in a dun- 
geon to which no ray of sunshine ever comes ; and 
he sees nothing. Bring him out into the full glare 
of the noonday sun, and he sees no more. And not 
only is it the case that by looking full at some object 
of dazzling brightness, our sight is for the moment 
overwhelmed and lost : we know that by frequently 
or long gazing at excessive light, the power of 
vision becomes permanently impaired, and even 
totally destroyed. So it was with Paul, in some 



Truths Overlooked. 341 



measure. As he was going to Damascus, on an 
errand of persecution, c suddenly there shone from 
heaven a great light round about him/ From that 
light a voice spoke to him, which turned him from 
Saul the Pharisee and Persecutor into Paul the 
Apostle and Martyr. And when the voice was 
silent, and the vision departed, he found that its 
effulgent brightness had not only dazzled his sight 
while he looked upon it, but even for the time taken 
his sight away. And long afterwards, when the 
Apostle told the story of that eventful day of his 
life, he recurs, in the words of our text, to the 
surpassing splendour of the heavenly vision. He 
says : c I could not see for the glory of that light.' 

Now I doubt not but the very youngest of us 
quite understands the immediate and material mean- 
ing of the Apostle. We have all looked for an 
instant on the sun in his mid-day strength ; and then 
found, as we turned our eyes on the fields around 
us, that bright colours danced before us, and we 
could see nothing distinctly for the while. But I 
need hardly tell you that it is not to offer you an 
explanation of any part of the laws of Optics, that 
I have asked your attention to this text. It seems 
to me as though moral analogies existed to this 
material law : it appears to me that the self-same 
law which obtains in the external world, has its 
types in the world of mind ; and that, as regards 
spiritual things as well as visible ones, there is such 

R 



24-3 Truths Overlooked because 



a thing as over-much light preventing men from 
seeing, — as over-much glory dazzling, instead of 
informing and enlightening the mind. And I 
desire to call your attention to one or two cases, in 
which we discern things dark through excess of 
light ; in which our mind's eye 6 cannot see through 
the glory of that light.' 

And the first object concerning which it is true 
that for very glory we cannot see it clearly, is that 
which is the First and Grandest Existence in the 
universe : it is the Almighty God Himself. We 
are told in the Bible that God is Light: that He is 
the Father of Lights : that He dwelleth in Light : 
and all the light, physical, intellectual, moral, 
spiritual, that is in the world, emanates and origi- 
nates from Him. And yet, is it not true, that 
1 we cannot see Him for the glory of that light ? ' 
You can look full, though it be but for a moment, 
upon the glorious sun, which is His faint emblem : 
but who can look on God ? c No man hath seen 
God at any time : ' no man can see God and live. 
And when the invisible God grew visible by human 
eyes, it was not in the unveiled splendour of God- 
head : it was in the face of Christ : and through 
the Blessed Saviour's human nature, God beamed 
in a softened radiance upon this world ; somewhat 
as the sun, too bright to look at in the blue un- 
clouded sky, grows more level to our power of 
vision when he has wrapped himself in silver 



of their Obviousness. 



-43 



clouds, through which he beams with a subdued 
glory. But it is not to this view of the truth that 
we are now adverting : it is rather to the fact that 
through the very glory and infinitude of His attri- 
butes, through the very brightness of His uncreated 
light, the c Father of Lights ' grows inscrutable by 
our little minds. We cannot comprehend God. 
We lose ourselves in mystery whenever we medi- 
tate upon His nature : and though He be Light 
itself, and though c in Him is no darkness at all ; 5 
yet there never was darkness which could more 
completely foil our vision : and the longer and 
more deeply we think upon the Almighty, the more 
humbly we take up the words of the prophet, and 
say, c Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself ! ' 
When we look at Him in the full brightness of 
His glory, such is our experience : it is only when 
that glory is tempered down to our weak sight by 
coming through the medium of a human nature, as 
it does when we see it in the face of Jesus, that 
we can understand it, at least in some degree. His 
Eternity, His Life, without an end, and (more 
mysterious vet) without a beginning : who can 
understand that r His Omnipresence : here, and 
at the Antipodes, in every one of the countless host 
of planets, at even 7 point in all the measureless 
expanse of space : who can understand that ? His 
reading of even' thought of our heart : who can 
understand that ? You will remember the ancient 

R 2 



244 Truths Overlooked because 



fable of the sage, who was asked by his king for an 
answer to the question, c What is God ? ' and who 
asked a day to consider his reply : and then at the 
end of the day asked a month ; and at the end of 
the month a year ; and at the end of the year said 
he never could answer the question at all : because 
mystery gathered on mystery the longer he dwelt 
upon the theme. Ah ! it is a true statement that, 
of the experience of every man who looks at God 
in any way but as revealed in Christ. We look 
at Him : and His unsearchable glory so dazzles 
our mental vision, that we cannot see Him. c We 
cannot see for the glory of that light.' 

But there is a truth of a more practical character, 
which has been suggested to me by this text. 
The idea expressed by St. Paul is, that through 
excess of that which is essential to our seeing, he 
could not see. And I trace an analogy to this in 
the spiritual world, in the fact to which our expe- 
rience testifies, that religious truths are very often 
overlooked, just because they are so very plain and 
obvious : we forget them, and live on in the forget- 
fulness of them, just because they are set in a light 
so thorough and indubitable, that reasoning about 
them is needless and useless. We do not see 
them, for the very clearness of the light which 
shines upon them. If you are trying to impress 
upon any man some truth of great practical import- 
ance, but which is not quite apparent at the first 



of their Obviousness. 



glance ; you make use of various arguments and 
illustrations to make it plainer and more obvious. 
You thus bring it more forcibly home to the man's 
understanding and heart : and you expect, as a 
matter of course, that when he fairly understands 
it and sees it, he will act upon it. But if a man 
doubts or denies a truth which is already so plain 
that it cannot possibly be plainer, what can you do 
with him ? What is the use of arguing with him ? 
The truth he denies is already in that state to which 
it is the purpose of argument to bring truths which 
are not self-evident: and nothing you can say can 
render it more plain. And the most real of all 
ways of denying any truth, is to deny it practically : 
that is, to live and act as if it were not true. For 
instance, a man does practically deny that the salva- 
tion of his soul is the one thing needful, if day by 
day he feels more anxious and works more indus- 
triously to get some earthly end. A man does 
practically deny that he must die some day, and may 
die to-morrow, if he goes on laying all his schemes 
just as if he were sure of living in this world for 
ever. A man does practically deny that there is a 
God, if he lives in all respects just as he would if 
if there were none. Now the evil and the difficulty 
is, that almost all those religious truths which men 
practically deny, are truths which are already so 
plain, that no talking can make them plainer : they 
are things so perfectly obvious, that it is a waste of 



246 Truths Overlooked because 



argument to apply it in such a case : it looks as if, as 
regards them, there were a moral analogy to the 
natural fact alluded to in my text : it should seem 
that there may be such a thing as a religious truth 
being so very clear and plain, that men practically 
overlook it, and do not see it. Practically they do 
not see it : that is, they act and live as though they 
saw it not. Let me ask your attention for a little 
to certain things which for very obviousness men 
overlook : which they do not see, not because they 
are in darkness, but because they are only in too 
distinct a light. 

And the first we mention is, the great necessity 
that lies upon us all to obtain a part in Christ's 
great salvation before we leave this world. We 
say that this is one of those truths whose very 
plainness seems to make men practically overlook 
it. My friends, I know what to do, if I meet with 
a man who says to me, You Christians say that 
the first and most important thing that every human 
being has to do, is by repentance and faith to gain 
an interest in Christ : you say that such is the only 
way in which to be cheerful and contented in this 
troublesome life, and at last to struggle through it 
into a better : but then I do not believe in Chris- 
tianity ; I do not believe in Christ ; and so / seek 
no part or lot in Him. If any man said that, I 
should know what to do : I should seek to set 
before him the various reasons we have for be- 



of their Ohviousness. 247 

lieving Christianity to be true ; reasons most 
sufficient to satisfy any unprejudiced man who has 
the power of thinking : and then I should hope 
that once he was brought to believe the truth of 
Christianity, he would begin to act upon his belief 
in its doctrines. But what can you say to a man 
who knows all the doctrines of Christianity as well 
as you : who is as perfectly aware as you are of what 
it teaches us of the fearful consequences of dying 
away from Christ : who believes in Heaven and 
Hell, and who believes that by turning to Christ 
he may gain the one and escape the other : and 
yet who knows and confesses that day by day he 
is living as though his creed were the Atheist's ! 
You can tell him nothing he does not know : you 
can set yourself to prove to him by argument 
nothing that he does not already believe. Argu- 
ment and information have no effect upon him, 
just because he goes in with them so readily : as 
the strongest blast can make no permanent im- 
pression on the willow, just because the willow 
bends so readily before its breath. Now all this is 
a case which seems to me in analogy to the fact 
described in the text. Here we have a thing 
overlooked for its very plainness \ forgotten just 
because^ it is pressed upon our attention so con- 
stantly ; — so clear that nothing can make it clearer ; 
— and thus, in the case of multitudes, producing 
no practical effect at all. And I suppose that 



248 Truths Overlooled hecause 



I need say nothing to prove to you that I have 
been describing a very common state. Have you 
not seen it : have you not felt it ? Ah brethren, 
if we always remembered and realized this great 
truth, so plainly set before us, that one thing is 
needful, and that nothing in this wide creation must 
be suffered to come for one moment into collision 
with it : what different people most of us would 
be ! Are there not professing Christians, — people 
who say they believe that the salvation of their 
souls is the thing to which everything else must 
give place, — who yet make that give place to every 
other thing ? Have you not seen professing Chris- 
tians who would be guilty of misrepresentation, 
who would tell a lie, to make a few shillings, or 
to gain a little credit, or to compass some worldly 
end, no matter what ? Are there not professing 
Christians, saying they believe that one thing is 
needful, who could not tell you of one earnest 
honest effort they have ever made in all their life 
to get that one thing ? — who day by day give 
much thought and much exertion to attending to 
their worldly business, and give their spiritual no 
thought and no exertion at all ? Truly they do 
not see the truth in its due weight and import, 
just for its very plainness : and just for its very 
plainness no human power can make them see it : 
for the way in which human beings can make us 
see what now we do not see, is by making it 



of their Obviousness. 249 



plainer than it is already : and this neglected, over- 
looked truth, is so plain already, that no man can 
make it more ! 

Another truth which we all admit, but which 
most men practically deny, is that of the certainty 
of death, and its possible nearness to any of us. 
And it is'just because this truth is so plain, — so per- 
fectly indisputable, — that this is so. It is a trite 
truism, to say that c all must die : 5 who needs to be 
told it ? Who doubts it ? The youngest and least- 
informed is quite aware of this. There is not one 
of us but understands that it is just a question of 
time, till we have to turn our back upon everything 
we now possess and value in this world : and we 
all know, too, how utterly uncertain is the time 
at which death may come to any one of us : 
not long at the longest, and perhaps very soon. 
But is there a truth that practically is so gene- 
rally forgotten ? We all admit the truth, but 
who acts upon it ? Who is there that every day 
seeks to have his treasure laid up above, because 
death will so soon part him from all possessions 
below ? And who is there that is seeking every 
day to prepare for the coming hour of his dying, as 
one who knows it must come more certainly than 
to-morrow's sun ? When you look round this 
world, and see how men toil for worldly ends, and 
how eager they are about things which are not to be 
for months and even years, is it not plain that they 



250 Truths Overlooked because 

are not remembering that one step, and one moment, 
may take them to a place where all these things will 
be as nothing? One would think that amid a world 
of many graves, we who have looked so often upon 
the little green turf which is all that now remains to 
mark the place of rest of a being once active and 
anxious and busy as we can be, would hardly be 
able to forget that in a little while we shall be laid 
in such a place as we have seen many laid before 
us. But how indifferently we speak of the death of 
our neighbours ! How carelessly we look upon their 
graves ! How very little, in any common day of truth 
and of health, we realize the hour when we shall 
feel our heart's last weary pausing, or the time when 
we shall lie, so still and cold, upon our bed of death ! 
It was no wonder that David said, c Oh that they 
were wise, that they understood this, that they would 
consider their latter end ! ' No wonder that he said 
that : for if we could only every day keep that part- 
ing hour before us, and realize all it means, what 
earnest Christians we should be ! What a rebuke 
it would be to anything like worldliness of spirit ! 
What a spur to working out our salvation and making 
sure of our interest in that gracious Saviour, who 
can make it c gain to die ! ' There is no reason at 
all why such a remembrance should overcast our 
days with sadness : Those who think most of death, 
if they think in the way the psalmist wished us, are 
those who will fear it least. It is not the thought of 



of their Obviousness. 251 

its physical pains that rebukes the worldly spirit : it 
is just the thought of it as a thing sure to be 3 which 
will take us away from everything the worldly spirit 
loves. A translation glorious as Elijah's or peaceful 
as Enoch's would read that lesson too. Nor is it at 
all because death has been called the king of terrors, 
and because there is something in our nature that 
shrinks away from him, that it concerns us to pre- 
pare against his coming so earnestly and instantly : 
it is because death is a thing that ushers us into a 
world in which there can be no change : because 
our only time for repenting and believing and finding 
a part in Christ, is before the day of his coming. 
But the psalmist's prayer that men might consider 
their latter end, is as needful now as it was in his 
days. And indeed, when you wish to impress upon 
yourself or upon another the lessons drawn from all 
this we believe of death, you can say little more 
than did the psalmist : you can only bid yourself 
'consider your latter end,' and pray that God's Holy 
Spirit may teach you to do so. For there is no 
room for argument in the case ; there is nothing to 
prove ; there is nothing that any one doubts : you 
cannot make the truth clearer than it is already: and 
if men will not see and consider this, they do not see 
for the very plainness and clearness of the light in 
which it stands. 

Without going on to increase the catalogue of 
truths which, from their very plainness, are com- 



2^2, Truths Overlooked because • 

monly overlooked, let us proceed rather to think of 
the way in which this evil may be remedied. I am 
sure that every man who is in earnest about re- 
ligion will very often blame himself much, and 
regret bitterly, that he is so far from realizing 
spiritual things in their just weight and importance, 
and that so little feeling is excited in his heart by 
the thought of these things. And I fear that the 
older we grow and the more familiar we become 
with religious truths, if we are left to the undirected 
tendencies of our fallen natures, the less likely shall 
we be to feel as we could wish, or to comprehend 
things with that clear vivid glance which may bring 
their reality broadly upon our souls. I do not 
know any talent more to be desired by a Christian 
minister, than that power which some men have, 
by directness of statement and force of expression, 
of bringing spiritual truths out to the minds of 
others, with a plainness and distinctness which 
makes them bulk something like the reality ; and I 
daresay we have manv of us sometimes had views 
of the need and the preciousness of the Saviour, of 
the nearness of eternity, of the vanity of this world, 
of the certainty of death, which we wished might 
never pass away from us, but under the remembrance 
and the influence of which we might live and die. 
And it is the prerogative of the highest orders of 
minds, to feel intensely and to see vividly in the 
regard of religious truth as of all other. But that 



of their Obviousness. 



253 



does not concern us. What you and I have 
to do is to find some way level to ordinary under- 
standings, and within every-day people's reach. 
And, blessed be God, such a way there is. We 
need not sit down in sadness, and make up our 
mind that we never shall be able to see how much 
we need a share in Christ's salvation, or how closely 
eternity presses upon us ; it is one part of the 
gracious working of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our 
minds, and to set spiritual truths before our eyes in 
such a way as that we shall feel something of 
their unspeakable importance. The right course to 
take when we feel that any religious doctrine has 
grown too familiar to us, so that familiarity has. 
taken from the effect it used to have upon our 
hearts, is to make it a subject of special prayer, that 
the Holy Spirit may open the eyes of our under- 
standings to understand it better, and touch our 
hearts to feel it more. Many a Christian can tell 
you, that sometimes, perhaps in a season of prayer 
or of solemn meditation, he has had glimpses of the 
Saviour's value ; views of God's kind providing 
care, and deep forgiving love ; realized feelings of 
His unwillingness that any should perish, and of 
His strong desire (how fettered and limited we can- 
not tell) that all should come to repentance, that all 
should forsake their wickedness and live : views of 
all these things and far more, which he felt it was 
no skill of his that presented to him ; and while thus 



254 Truths Overlooked he cause 



musing the fire has burned— a fire which no earthly- 
power kindled in his heart. And in all this the 
believer would very humbly, indeed, but very un- 
hesitatingly, trace the breathing of the enlightening 
Spirit of God. Now these influences are free to all 
believers : w^e have more confidence in praying for 
the Spirit than in asking for almost any other bless- 
ing. There is hardly another which is promised so 
directly and w T ith so little restriction : ' If ye, being 
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, 
how much more shall your heavenly Father give the 
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him r ' And while 
we would bear it in our remembrance how much we 
need Him in many ways : while we pray that He 
may be .sent to us as a Spirit of holiness, to renew 
our evil hearts, to create in us a better nature, and 
to sanctify us day by day ; w r hile we ask that 
w 7 hen we kneel at the throne of grace, He may be 
near us to whisper the right petition and to inspire 
the right affection : while we ask that in those 
dark days of sorrow which will come the way of 
every human being, He may be to us that blessed 
Comforter w T hose presence the Redeemer thought 
might compensate even for the loss of His own : let 
us ask for Him, too, as one w T hose special province 
it is to open the eyes of our understanding, and 
make us see by uncreated light. It will be easy for 
Him, and a task for which He is as willing as 
He is able, to make all those religious truths 



of their Obviousness. 



255 



which men now overlook because of their very 
plainness, break upon the soul in forms so startling 
and awful, that we cannot help remarking them 
and realizing them in some degree. Let us pray 
that He may do so ; that He may c convince us of 
our sin and misery,' and c enlighten our minds in the 
knowledge of Christ.' 

And in conclusion let me remind you, that there 
is guilt in this overlooking of religious truths of 
which we have been speaking to you. God has 
said enough to us, and God has shown enough to 
us : and it is our own fault if we will not see and 
hear. You remember the answer of Abraham to 
the rich man in woe, who asked that one might 
return from the dead to warn his surviving brothers. 
c They have Moses and the prophets,' said Abraham: 
c let them hear them.' No doubt they were over- 
looking and neglecting the means of grace which 
they enjoyed : no doubt it did not strike them that 
they had already as much to waken them to re- 
pentance as if one rose from the dead and come to 
warn them : no doubt it did not strike them that 
no spectral visitant from the unseen world could 
tell them any stronger reason for repenting than 
they already knew : but if they would neglect and 
overlook all the warnings they had 5 they must do so 
at their own peril. It would be no answer at the 
day of judgment to say that they really had never 



2$6 Truths Overlooked because 

noticed how much God had done to make them 
think of eternity. And there can hardly be a more 
awful thing in the experience of the careless soul, 
when at last the hour of death draws near, and yet 
more when it enters the eternal world, than when 
first there breaks upon it the awful sense of how 
many warnings it had resisted, and how much light it 
had sinned against, in its progress towards endless 
woe. How could I ever do it all, will be its bitter 
wonder throughout eternity ! How was it that I 
did not prepare for death, though I knew it must 
come : and did not choose my part in Christ, though 
knowing it was the one thing needful ! Was it not 
that c I could not see for the clearness of that light ! 9 
My friends, if there be any of us, who are ac- 
customed to worship week by week within these 
walls, who at the last are to come short of Heaven 
and salvation, we may be sure that when we come 
to die, we shall feel, as in the commonplace round 
of life we never felt, what overwhelming reason we 
had while in this world, to give every energy of our 
being to the work of securing our salvation. We 
shall feel then^ if not before, the tremendous force 
of the old reasons for going to Christ and believing 
on Him, which were pressed upon us a hundred and 
a thousand times, till they grew so familiar to us 
that they produced no impression : till we saw them 
in light so plain and clear, that we got to live on as 
though we saw them not at all. I suppose that 



of their Obviousness. 257 



we have all learned that even as regards our worldly 
duties and interests, there are few things more pain- 
ful, few things that leave on the mind a feeling of 
more vague, self-condemning, self-wondering re- 
morse, than suddenly to remember, too late, some- 
thing that we ought, for every reason, to have done : 
than suddenly to have flash upon us, too late, when 
the decisive moment in which to act is past, some 
consideration which, if we had only thought of it in 
time, would at once have decided us : than sud- 
denly to see, plainly and unmistakeably, the very 
thing we ought to have done : and to wonder, in 
absolute consternation, at our own blindness and 
thoughtlessness in not having seen it sooner ! It 
is painful to feel all that, even in regard to the 
little interests of time : even in regard to the day 
when we thoughtlessly took the wrong turn in life, 
whose consequences will remain to life's end ; and 
foolishly did that which we might have known 
better than to do, and which nothing would induce 
us to do again. But think of the fearful bitter- 
ness of such a feeling, in looking back on this life 
from the shore of the other world ! Think of a 
human being going down to perdition, — looking 
back on life, and cursing his blindness and folly in 
never having noticed the things by which God was 
trying day by day through all those years to lead 
him to Christ and salvation ! My brethren, pray 
that God would make us all feel these things now ! 



Truths Overlooked. 



They are old and plain things : but it is just such 
that it most concerns us to remember ; and t he 
most worn commonplaces are not commonplace, 
when they come home to our own case and our 
own hearts and selves. Where shall we be in a 
hundred years? These winters and summers will 
go : and where will this congregation be then ? 
This church may be here yet : but we shall be far 
away : and away in a world where the manifold 
cares, toils, and comforts of this life will be done 

with : where worldly wealth cannot enrich : where 

j 

the soul's only stay and provision must be a saving 
part in the Redeemer ! Oh that God's Blessed 
Spirit would make us feel these things now \ and 
make us live as though we felt them ! 



259 



XV. 

DESPONDENCY. 

* But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and 
came and sat down under a juniper tree : and he requested for him- 
self that he might die j and said, It is enough : now, O Lord, take 
away my life ; for I am not better than my fathers.' — I Kings 
xix. 4. 

ir PHE fruit of the Spirit,' says St. Paul, 1 is 
love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness/ 
How stands that statement in the light of the fact 
recorded in my text ? Here is a man who was, 
in a special measure, filled with the Holy Spirit. 
When St. John the Baptist came as the forerunner 
of Christ, nothing better or higher could be said of 
him, than that he came c in the spirit and power of 
Elijah.' But on that most miserable evening, far 
in the waste wilderness, there was no trace of 
these kindly fruits of the indwelling of our great 
Sanctifier and Comforter in Elijah's speech or 
mood. For love, there was bitterness : for joy, 
utter wretchedness : for peace, distraction : for 
long-suffering, impatience : for gentleness, wrath 
with God and man. Yes, God's most favoured 
s 2 



Despondency. 



servants are no more than imperfect and sinful 
persons after all : and for that, let us thank Him ! 
It is because of their sinfulness and imperfection, 
that they are examples to you and me. We 
get nearer to the great Tishbite when we see 
him thus : we know him better. In the grander 
parts of his story, he seems to stand apart from 
us ; apart from our sympathy : we feel our dis- 
tance. But on that evening, when beaten and 
disheartened, he sat down under a prickly bush 
away in the desert, and wished he was in his grave, 
there is something that comes straight to our heart. 
We can all understand this. What is the feeling 
of being inspired, what is the feeling of being able 
to work a miracle, we cannot at all understand. 
But the feeling of despondency : the sense that 
our work and our life are a failure : the blankness 
of disappointment : the sense of loneliness : the 
feeling that the burden laid on us is too heavy to 
bear, and that we desire to lay it aside for ever : 
these are things common in the experience of 
Christian people from Elijah's day to ours. 

No doubt there are believing men and women 
who have that equable cheerfulness of natural 
temperament ; or who have been blessed by God, 
who gives the gifts He will to whom He will, with 
such a measure of peace in believing, and of joy 
in the Holy Ghost ; that they seem never to know 
depression and despondency. There are those. 



Despondency. 



261 



who, like the Ethiopian treasurer, having found a 
Saviour, c go on their way rejoicing : ' are enabled 
to obey the apostolic command, to c rejoice ever- 
more-. ' and truly find that c the peace of God 
which passeth all understanding keeps their hearts 
and minds through Christ Jesus/ And dwelling 
amid a grave and not sanguine race, which takes 
even its pleasures sadly (as the old Chronicler said), 
such have good reason to esteem themselves singu- 
larly favoured. For there are many Christian 
people who find God's commandment to be happy 
quite as difficult to keep as God's commandment 
to be holy : who have inherited a natural de- 
spondency, or to whom it has pleased God to ap- 
point that for their portion in this life. There are 
many believing people who have heartily sought 
to give themselves to Christ, to take His yoke 
upon them and learn of Him, to whom His teach- 
ing and His yoke are very far from having brought 
entire peace and rest : and who often know sea- 
sons of depression ; times when all seems changed, 
all dark, all amiss : times when (like Elijah) they 
feel quite weary, when hope and heart break down, 
when they think they can bear no more ; and 
when Elijah's wish comes to their heart, that all 
this troublesome life were over. Now probably 
such times and things have been in the experience 
of all Christian people now present^ who have 
passed over the hopeful days of early youth : I 



262 



Despondency. 



have never known them more sadly than in the 
case of very sincere and advanced Christians. Per- 
haps there are some here now, who this day and 
yesterday, and for many days, have been enduring 
a despondency like Elijah's ; perhaps knowing why 
it has come, through some loss, disappointment, 
or failure ; perhaps not well knowing why it has 
come. Perhaps there are some here who feel as 
if a change had passed over eveiything : as if the 
very church, and the music, and the whole service, 
were different from what they used to be, and had 
lost all heart and interest. Well, be it so. Thank 
God that you have been brought here : for here, 
in my text, is a message for you, a message for all. 
May the Blessed Spirit carry it home, to the cheer- 
ing, comforting, directing, and warning, of every 
heart here this afternoon. Some may need it more 
than others : but all need it. Some live more than 
others in that dark and cold shade ; but it can 
hardly be supposed that any have no experience of 
Elijah's desponding mood. And you may be sure 
of this : that God's word has something to say 
about a thing so well known to all God's poor 
sinful children. Doubtless, the day came, before 
long, on which the great Prophet looked back with 
penitence, and wonder, and shame, upon this out- 
burst of miserable feeling. As for us, we look 
back upon it with humble thankfulness. It is 
something, to be assured that the dark hours which 



Despondency. 



263 



sometimes come to us, have come to God's best 
and bravest servants : and there are many things 
which, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, all 
Christians may learn from words which holy men 
of God spake, not as they were moved by the 
Holy Ghost, but as they were moved by human 
feeling. 

Let us recall the circumstances. Elijah had met 
a disappointment, and a great one. You remember 
the day of decision on Mount Carmel : the destruc- 
tion of the false prophets, and the choice by all the 
people of the true God for their God. You remem- 
ber how, amid the welcome rain, Elijah ran, with 
Arab speed and endurance, before the king's cha- 
riot, the long eighteen miles to the city of Jezreel. 
Doubtless he looked for a general reformation : king 
and people together seemed as though returning 
from Baal to God. Perhaps, — for human nature is 
poor human nature, — he thought, through that hur- 
ried race, and looking back on the exciting day, how 
he himself would be the head and leader in that 
blessed movement : and how, from being a scourge, 
and a name of fear, he might come to be blessed 
in many a home as one who had reconciled his 
nation to his God, and brought back better blessing 
to the soul than were the gracious drops to the 
parched fields. But how different the fact ! Jezreel 
is reached at last. Ahab tells Jezebel what had 
passed at Carmel : and a stronger hand than the 



264. 



Despondency . 



king's is speedily at work. Jezebel, filled with 
wrath, sends him word that next day he should die: 
there was no trace of repentance or amendment 
there. All this, coming at the close of a most 
wearing day, and implying the frustration of all his 
hopes, was too much : and the courage that never 
had failed before quite broke down. He should 
have trusted that God would deliver him : should 
have stayed and died, if that were God's will. But 
he rises and goes for his life : gets out of the king- 
dom of Israel into that of Judah : hastens to Beer- 
sheba, the farthest point in the land from Jezreel, 
far south, on the border of the desert. But he does 
not feel safe even there. Israel and Judah were 
now friendly allies ; and he might be given back to 
Jezebel's vengeance. So in that remote village he 
leaves his servant, who had hitherto been with him, 
and whom tradition declares to have been the 
widow's son he raised to life : and a beaten, cowed, 
heart-broken man, flies, all alone, into the waste 
wilderness. You would not think that this des- 
perate fugitive was God's mighty prophet Elijah ! 
No : no more than you would have recognised in 
the cowardly man that said he never had heard of 
Jesus of Nazareth, the Apostle that preached His 
Gospel far and wide, the martyr who died for Him. 

He goes on, through the long, burning day, 
into the desert : hoping, perhaps, to fall in with 
the friendly Arabs, who might give him food and 



Despondency. 

shelter. But not the poor prodigal, in his want, 
was more friendless than he. And, as darkness 
came on, faint with hunger and fatigue, he sits 
down under a juniper tree : and now comes the 
very last request of utter hopelessness : c He re- 
quested for himself that he might die ; and said, 
It is enough ; now, O Lord, take away my life, 
for I am not better than my fathers/ 

There are few words more true to poor human 
nature. Hastily said, foolishly said, impatiently said, 
from Job the patriarch down to this day, the weary 
wish has been, to cast off the burden of this life. 
You know how the greatest man ever born in this 
country, in a time of deep distress, wrote in his 
diary: c To-day I heard of such an old friend's death \ 
and could have wished it had been Sir Walter.' 
c It is enough,' said Elijah : c I can bear no more, 
I can do no more : I have heart for no more : Let 
me go to rest ! ' Oh, how much better God knew 
than his poor despairing servant ! No, it was not 
enough ! There were great things for him to do. 
And how gloriously his life here was to end, who, if 
he had got his request, would have died on the hot 
sand, in the lonely desert, under the little juniper 
tree ! 

God knows what you and I need, and what is 
good for us, infinitely better than we know our- 
selves. His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven! 

Now it will be profitable for us to think what 



266 Despondency. 



were the causes of that despondency of Elijah ; and 
to think how far the like causes mav conduce to 
the despondency which most of us will sometimes 
know. If you know why a painful thing comes, 
this may be a step towards preventing its coming. 
And it is not God's purpose that we should endure 
any misery which we can find honest means to 
keep away. 

The first cause 1 mention, which manifestly 
tended to cause the great Prophet's deep depression, 
and which also tends yet to cause the depres- 
sion and despondency we sometimes find in Chris- 
tian people, is one which no thoughtful person will 
think a small one, and which no enlightened be- 
liever will judge unworthy of mention in a religious 
discourse. It was partly physical, the Prophet's 
despondency : it was his bodily weariness and dis- 
comfort that re-acted upon his soul. We need not 
shut our eyes to these facts. We need not speak 
of them lightly. It is quite true what has been said, 
that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye 
of a needle, than for a man suffering from certain 
kinds of nervous disease to be patient, gentle, and 
long-suffering. Gloomy views of all things : doubts, 
in believing people, whether their faith have not 
been a wretched delusion : theological difficu!:ie> 
and perplexities : religious depression : snappish- 
ness and general ill-temper: are oftentimes, in great 
measure, the result of causes in the bodily frame, 



Despondency. 



And thus it is, that sometimes you most effectually 
minister to the mind diseased by ministering to 
the body diseased. Cheerfulness, hopefulness, and 
energy, in religious feeling and life just as in natu- 
ral, are very much matters of physical organisation. 
In an ill-ventilated church, where the people are 
breathing an unhealthy atmosphere, the chance of a 
sermon rousing their attention and benefiting their 
souls, is much lessened. Now, it is our bounden 
duty to remember these things : we are just as 
really bound to obey God's physical laws as His 
spiritual. Every minister comes to know well, in 
the course of his pastoral work, that there are various 
kinds of disease which cause religious despondency, 
demanding the care rather of the physician than of 
the divine. The peace and comfort we all hope to 
derive from a well-spent Communion Sunday are, 
in some measure, dependent on a good night's rest 
having preceded that day : and God only knows how 
much the spiritual comfort of His people in this 
city, on the first Sunday of each December, might 
be diminished by rain and storm. How thankful 
wise and Christian people are for a calm and plea- 
sant Lord's-day ! How specially so for one of 
high Communion ! 

The practical lesson from all this is, that a believer 
ought, for his soul's comfort and profit, to obey God's 
material laws : that, for our soul's sake, it becomes 
us to care for our bodies. The material frame of a 



2,68 Despondency. 



converted and sanctified man is c the temple of the 
Holy Ghost and we have grown wiser than those 
austere and ignorant Christians, who fancied, in the 
face of God's plain teaching, that the soul's graces 
would best grow through the voluntary neglect of 
the body's faculties and powers. No doubt it 
may be exaggerated, and may pass into cant ; but 
there is sound sense in it ; the common talk about 
muscular Christianity. We are to c glorify God 
with our bodies and our spirits, which are His.' 
And while humbly thankful that where God has sent 
disease and broken health, He oftentimes sanctifies 
the trial to the soul's growth in grace, making that 
flourish while c flesh and heart faint and fail:' yet 
let us remember, that so far as we can, if we would 
be cheerful and hopeful believers, recommending 
our faith to others by a holy life and a happy address, 
we must obey God's physical laws. Bodily tem- 
perance, cleanliness, and exercise, have something 
to do with the soul's health. 

A second cause of Elijah's despondency doubtless 
was, that his occupation was gone. He had nothing 
to do. The same cause tends to much of the reli- 
gious despondency that exists among ourselves. 

There can be no doubt that brisk work, not over- 
work, tends to keep off that depression in which a 
human being sinks down beaten, like Elijah, and 
wishes it were all over. While Elijah was busy : 



Despondency. 



when that day on Carmel he stood before Israel as 
God's one prophet against a multitude of foes ; 
though never was man in greater danger, he was 
alert, active, almost cheerful : he never dreamt then 
of breaking down and giving up. No : every nerve 
was tense ; every faculty on the stretch : he had 
not time for moaning. But he fell into that depth 
of utter depression, rebelliously asked God to take 
away his life for he could bear it no longer, just 
when his occupation was gone ; when he had no 
more to do ; when there was nothing to put his 
mind upon the stretch, and to keep it from turning 
in wrath against itself. And that great man Martin 
Luther, who all his life had to watch and manage 
his mind for fear of falling into awful depression, 
writes, c I rush out among my pigs, rather than sit 
still and do nothing ! ' Anything rather than that ! 

My friends, if there be any here to-day who are 
now suffering from like despondency to Elijah's ; or 
who sometimes suffer from it, though not now : let 
me say this to you, and to all (for all are in peril of 
the same) : bestir yourselves ! Take to hard work: 
there is no difficulty in finding it in this world. 
That, by God's blessing, will drive out the demon 
of despondency ! I believe there are many minds, 
and noble minds, too, that are kept sane only by 
hard work : that, if constrained to be idle, would 
soon grow morbid and miserable. You know you 
can keep a horse on his feet on a slippery road by 



2/0 Despondency. 



driving him smartly, who, at a slower pace, would 
speedily slip and fall. It is so with our minds, my 
friends. Many of them are kept on their feet, kept ser- 
viceable and healthful, only by constantly providing 
them with occupation. And it is perfectly wonderful 
how hard work will cheer and brighten up all your 
thoughts and views, and how soon it will do so. 
Ask God's blessing upon it : ask the Holy Ghost 
(who is the great Guardian of our souls, and the 
great Disciplinarian), to make it tell on us health- 
fully and happily : and, oh, what a sudden acces- 
sion of soundness of opinion and of modest cheer- 
fulness of soul will come through hard work ! 

A third cause which conduced to Elijah's de- 
spondency, and which conduces to the despondency 
of Christians still, is the sense of failure: the feeling 
that, having done our very best, we have failed 
in our work after all. 

Elijah had hoped to bring Israel back from idols 
to God : that was the work to which he had given 
his heart. And he thought he had succeeded. All 
promised fair on that day at Carmel. But how 
blighted were his hopes ! What a bitter, despair- 
ing sense of failure in his words : c I have been 
very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts : for the 
children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant^ 
thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets 
with the sword : and I, even I only, am left, and 



Despondency. 



571 



they seek my life, to take it away.' Yes, there are 
few things that more thoroughly break an earnest 
soul down than the sense that it has failed in the 
work to which it gave strength and life. 

Perhaps there is no one here who will set him- 
self, and all he cares for, so completely upon the 
issue of one question, as Elijah did. With that 
single-hearted man everything was wrong, if Israel 
was not brought back to God. None of us may 
ever feel the utter blank, the hopeless break-down 
of the entire purpose of our life, that Elijah knew 
upon that supremely miserable day. Still, we shall 
all know the blank, disappointed sense of failure. 
Most know it well already. Most earnest men know 
what it is to do their very best, and see the fabric 
of their hopes crumble down, or swept away. Most 
human beings have, at some time of their life, set their 
heart on something which God said was never to be. 
Let us sympathize with the desolate feeling whenever 
we see it : most of all> in those who fail in endea- 
vours to benefit and convert their fellow-men. Let 
us pray that the trial may be sanctified to all disap- 
pointed people y and that the Blessed Spirit may 
help them over it. But, thinking of the like, we 
may feel for the fainting prophet, who felt that all 
his plans and hopes had failed so wretchedly, that 
he had not the heart to try again. 

My friends, these three causes of Elijah's de- 
spondency are causes which every man can under- 



2J2 Despondency. 

stand, whethei he be a Christian or not. For the 
laws of mind apply to the converted soul just as to 
any other. But now, let us think of a fourth cause 
of despondency peculiar to the Christian. It is 
the sense of backsliding ; the feeling that he is 
going further from God, and that the graces of the 
Spirit are languishing and dying. All sense that 
one has fallen off, is bitter : but this most of all. 
We do not know in what degree this was present 
with Elijah : perhaps there had been some self- 
exaltation on that day of triumph at Carmel, which 
was to be humbled in dust : perhaps it was a bitter 
reflection in the prophet's fear and flight, that once 
the day was when he would not have fled, and not 
have been afraid. But let us turn to what more 
closely concerns ourselves, and think that a real 
cause of despondency in converted people is the 
melancholy conviction that they are falling away 
from grace ; and in unconverted people, the con- 
viction that they are not right with God. Here is 
the root of the evil, after all : here is the real 
wretched origin of all true despondency and de- 
pression. Deeper than physical causes : deeper 
than lack of occupation : deeper than the bitter 
sense of failure : the spring of bitterness in many a 
heart is the lurking doubt whether it is right with 
God. 

I do solemnly believe that the thing which is at 
the foundation of that vague disquiet and appre- 



Despondency. 273 



hension which, in the case of many, does so much 
to gnaw away the enjoyment of life, is one of 
which they do not think. Some people are dis- 
posed to say, Oh, if I could only be free from such 
a thing that vexes me and keeps me anxious, I 
should be all right : everything else is as I would 
wish, but that one bitter drop in the cup turns it ail 
to bitterness. Now, any such idea is quite mis- 
taken. I believe that the real reason of the dis- 
quiet and depression of many hearts is, that they 
are not right with God : they have never truly and 
heartily believed in Jesus Christ. They may have 
thought a good deal about religion : but still they 
vaguely feel within themselves that they have never 
fairly taken the decisive step. Now, we cannot be 
converted to God, unless it be heartily ; we cannot 
go to Christ, and at the same time hold by the 
world just as we used to do ; we cannot put our 
hand to the plough, and at the same time look back, 
and hang back, and turn back. And if a human 
being thinks at all, he can never be otherwise 
than vaguely uneasy, unhappy, unsatisfied, restless, 
anxious, till he has really and heartily believed in 
Christ : till he is able, very humbly indeed, and 
with no vain self-confidence, to say, c I know 
whom I have believed : and I am persuaded that 
He is able to keep that which I have committed to 
Him against that day.' I am not careful to explain 
the logical steps of the process : there are many 



Despondency. 



things in the working of our deepest consciousness 
which are beyond our logic ; but let me say to 
every one who hears me, who is always vaguely 
foreboding ill, who trembles at the coming of post- 
time, lest it may bring some terrible bad news, — 
whose imagination is alwavs running; on the sad 
contingencies and possibilities of evil which hang 
over our life here, — who carries only too far the wise 
man's admonition, not to c boast of to-morrow/ 
because we c know r not what a day may bring forth \ ' 
to every such person let me say, Try a different way 
of escaping from your cares and fears and gloom 
than perhaps you have been trying : the thing that 
is at the bottom of them all is the lurking fear that 
vou are not right with God : it is that which is 
eating the heart out of your enjoyment of life : it is 
that which keeps you vaguely unsatisfied and fear- 
ful ; pray to have that set right, and then it will be 
well with you. Do not foolishly refuse to examine 
into the truth of the case : probe your nature to the 
uttermost : it will not heal a deep poisoned wound 
just to skin it over ; if you have been wrong till 
now, oh begin and be right from to-day ! Go to 
God, and sav, I am a poor sinful w r eary trembling 
creacure ; I fear I have been deceiving myself, and 
thinking of myself far too well : Yet, as I am, I 
come to Thee once more \ and ask pardoning 
mercy and sanctifying grace only through Christ ! 
If you fear you have not come to the Saviour yet ? 



Despondency. 275 



then come to-day : it is just the heart's consent that 
is needed, now ! O brethren, get the great central 
stay made firm and strong, and all will be well. 
But if the key-stone of the arch be wrong, or even 
doubtful, then all is amiss. The great step towards 
trusting all to God as your Father, is to be really 
persuaded that God is your Father : and that you 
are of their number to whom He has promised that 
c all things shall work together ' for their true good. 

But you may say to all this, that if you know 
yourself at all, you have come to Christ, and found 
a Saviour in Him ; and yet that the gloomy seasons 
come back of despondency deep as Elijah's. My 
reply is, that after all is said, there is such a thing 
as a constitutional despondency, which founds so 
much on physical causes, and is so woven into the 
texture of the soul, that not even God's grace will 
quite remove it in this world ; and you may be one 
to whom God has appointed to bear that heavy 
burden till you enter into heaven. It is not the 
sight of the cross, as in the matchless allegory, but 
the beatific vision of your Saviour in glory, that 
will take your burden away. It would be easy to 
name some of the best Christians that ever lived, 
who bore that weary load even to the end. We 
can but say that God gives each of His children his 
own share of sorrow, and this was theirs. Each 
has his cross, and this was theirs. Perhaps it is 
yours. But it is very likely that the interruption 



2/6 Despondency. 



of your peace comes from a different quarter alto- 
gether. There is nothing more certain than this : 
that the peace and joy of believing people will be 
abated, will be destroyed, by any permitted sin, by 
any neglect of the means of grace, by restraining 
prayer, by failing to always look and ask for the 
Holy Spirit. c If I regard iniquity in my heart, the 
Lord will not hear me.' Now, if there be any 
Christian here who has of late been 6 walking in 
darkness and having no light,' let such a one con- 
sider whether there have been anything like this 
with him. Have you been growing self-reliant : 
self-confident : self-conceited ? Have you been 
failing to realize your simple dependence on God's 
grace? Then perhaps He is letting you try how 
you can stand alone. And now that you have 
found how poorly you can do that, go back to 
Him ; and the sun will shine out once more. 
Would you wish to read the story of your lapse and 
your restoration in inspired' words ? You have it 
here. 4 O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God ; 
for thou art fallen by thine iniquity. Take with 
you words, and turn to the Lord ; say unto Him, 
Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously. 
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely : 
for mine anger is turned away from him.' 

And now, if all reasoning and repenting fail to 
take your despondency away, let me suggest to you 



Despondency. 277 



a remedy in the last resort. It may sound mystical 
to some, but that cannot be helped : and it may 
comfort some one here to-day. Let me say, cease 
from reasoning with your heavy heart, and go 
straight to the Holy Spirit of God, in prayer. Tell 
Him of all your distress : He is the great Comforter : 
ask Him to comfort you. I cannot believe that 
any Christian did ever earnestly and perseveringly 
do that^ without finding peace and light. You may 
have to wait God's time : but these will come at 
last 

It is not' unreasonable or wrong in us, Chris- 
tian friends, to pray that the path of our pilgrimage 
may be through green pastures and by still waters. 
It is quite fit that at the throne of grace,, we 
should plead an Old Testament promise, that we 
may be kept in perfect peace, our mind being 
stayed on our God ; and a yet happier New Testa- 
ment one, from our Blessed Saviour's lips, that His 
peace may be given to us, which the world can 
neither give nor take. Yet it may come more home 
to our personal experience, that c we must through 
much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God 
and though with little of St. Paul's reason to be 
6 exalted above measure,' there may be given to us, 
as to him, c a thorn in the flesh,' or in the spirit, 
c the messenger of Satan to buffet us : ' some bur- 
den of care, grief, or despondency, to bear to the 



2/8 



Despondency. 



journey's end. Then pray, my friends, for that 
inestimable blessing, of grace sufficient for you ; 
and strength made perfect in your weakness, by the 
never-failing presence of that Blessed Spirit whom 
we humbly desire for our constant companion. 
So we shall be content that our path be thorny 
and steep, if it do but lead to the Rest of heaven. 
And as for the present, let it be to you as it was 
to the great Apostle of the Gentiles : that c most 
gladly shall you rather glory in your infirmities, that 
the power of Christ may rest upon you ! ' 



279 



XVI. 

THE FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND 
EARTH. 

'The whole family in heaven and earth.' — Ephes. iii. 15. 

T% /T ANY of you remember those touching verses, 
in which a great poet tells us how he met a 
little girl of eight years old, and asked her how 
many brothers and sisters she had. She answered, 
There are seven of us : two brothers gone to sea ; 
two of us living at a place a long way off ; two of 
us lying in the church-yard ; and not far from them, 
she said, I live with my mother. The good man 
tells us how he went on to say to the child, that if 
two out of the seven brothers and sisters were dead, 
then there were only five in the family now. But 
he tells how the little girl resisted such a thought : 
how she would count in the number of her brothers 
and sisters, the brother and sister that were in 
Heaven. 'How many are there of you,' once 
more said the kind poet, c if there are two in Heaven, 
and only five left: in this world ? ' But you remem- 
ber how she still answered, c Seven.' When she 



280 



The Family In 



counted up the number of her brothers and sisters, 
she counted the dead ones too : she could not think 
that though her brother and her sister had gone 
away, they were not her brother and her sister ye:. 
Quite true, they no longer lived in her home, nor 
played with her on the green : quite true, that now 
for many a day she had not seen them, nor talked with 
them: quite true, they were living now in Heaven, 
with One who was so kind to little children when 
on earth. But for all this, the wise little girl knew 
that they had been her brother and her sister once ; 
and she was sure that wherever they were, her bro- 
ther and her sister they would be. 

St. Paul would have said she was right. If you 
had asked him, how many there were in a Christian 
family, of which five were in this world and two 
with our Blessed Redeemer, he would have said, 
Seven ! He would have sided with the little girl 
who, in reckoning up her brothers and sisters, did 
not forget the dead ones, It is quite certain that he 
thought that though the dark stream of death parts 
believers on earth from believers in heaven, it breaks 
no tie of grace nor of nature. We, poor sinful 
creatures, living here, often careful and anxious, 
may, at this season when many families parted 
through the year are united for a little, remember 
that if we be Christian people, we stand in close 
relationship to the holy and happy spirits who have 
entered into the rest and glory above. You see 



Heaven and Earth. 28 1 



how, in my text, the great Apostle speaks of the 
Church of Christ, — the great company of all re- 
deemed and sanctified souls. He calls it, c The 
whole family in heaven and earth.' 

Nothing can be plainer. All Christians, whether 
in heaven or on earth, make one great family. The 
stream of death runs through this family, indeed : 
part of the family is on one side, and part on the 
other : but that does not make two families of it ; 
it remains one family still. And yet, plain as this 
is, it startles us at first : for it conflicts with one of 
those large vague half-conscious beliefs, which do us 
a great deal of harm. We have come to feel as if 
death breaks all ties. If we had lost two out of a 
family of seven, and if any one asked how many there 
were in the family, we should be ready to say, 
c Once there were seven : now there are onlv five.' 
And yet, apart from the light cast on the subject by 
this text, which tells us that all saved through Christ 
make one family, part in heaven and part on earth, — 
and so that distance, and separation, and change of 
state, do not break the tie between us and those who 
have gone before us, — we can all think of instances 
which cast a light and meaning and reason upon 
what St. Paul says here. There is hardly a family 
in this country now, but has some member of it, — 
perhaps several, — far away : while yet those who 
remain in the old home which was the starting-point 
of that little circle's wanderings, never think that 



282 The Family in 



the relationship is severed, because brother or sister 
is far away. You know houses, perhaps, where, 
this Christmas-time, there is but a little circle 
gathered : father and mother, and a grown-up child 
or two. And remembering how, when you visited 
that dwelling fifteen or twenty years since, the 
hearth was surrounded by little smiling faces, and 
the roof echoed with little unsubdued voices, all 
gone, — you might fancy, if you were a stranger, 
that those aging parents have but a little family now. 
But you will not sit long in that narrowed circle, till 
you find the family is not so small yet, though it be 
but a small part of it you see. For you hear the 
parents speak of this son and that, doing the work of 
life in this and that far-away place, whose name has 
grown a household word : you hear what has become 
of the boys , and girls of those years since, who are 
the men and women of to-day. You find how the 
letters of the absent ones are wearied for, read and 
re-read : you see how their gifts and memorials are 
prized. And you feel that the family, though scat- 
tered over the wide world, is one family yet. The 
father might tell you his sons were gone out, like 
birds from the nest, since you knew his house these 
years since : but he would not tell you they had 
ceased to be his sons. It was one family : a family 
parted, indeed ; and parted perhaps never to meet 
again in time : but one family yet. 

And in the light of so familiar an instance, we 



Heaven and 'Earth. 



can the better receive St. Paul's assurance. All 
Christians, he says : all pardoned through Him who 
bade us rather show forth His death than remember 
even His blessed birth ; — all sanctified by the Holy 
Spirit He sends us : however divided they may be, — 
even though divided by that most complete of all 
severances vje know, death, — are yet so closely 
united as to make but one family. Death may 
divide the family ; but only into two companies, 
not into two families. Now all this has been so 
much better said in words very familiar to most of 
us, that I am sure they are already in many minds 
here : so let us recall them. 

The saints on earth, and those above, 

But one communion make : 
Joined to their Lord in bonds of love, 

All of His grace partake. 

One family we dwell in Him; 

One Church above, beneath, 
Though now divided by the stream, 

The narrow stream of death. 

One army of the living God, 

To His command we bow : 
Part of the host have crossed the flood, 

And part are crossing now. 

Here is the subject for our thoughts this after- 
noon : may the Holy Spirit make it profitable to 
all ! There are various ways in which we may 
think of our Christian brethren. They are the 
Catholic Church of Christ : the great company of 



28 4 



The Family in 



All Saints : the Household of Faith : the Body of 
Christ : all these and more. But at this kindly- 
season, with which so many of us have such dear 
associations ; and on this day w T hich so many 
Christian people do rightly or wrongly regard as 
the Birthday of our Blessed Redeemer, our Elder 
Brother ; it will be congenial and cheering to think 
of all Christian people under an imagery that speaks 
of the fireside, and the old familiar faces of home. 
And if we are made to feel, as years go on, what 
breaks come in family circles here, and what never- 
ceasing change passes on all the members of the 
family, young and old ; well may we take occasion 
thence to think of a Home, where the faces gather 
no deepening lines, and the hair does not grow thin 
and gray : where there are no partings and no 
deaths, no sorrow and no sin : where it never will 
be sorrow to look back on the past, nor fear to 
look on to the future. Come, my friends, and let 
us think of Christ's Church under the kindly 
imagery of 4 the whole family in heaven and 
earth.' 

And first, a word may fitly be said as to the 
propriety of this imagery : as to the resemblance 
between the company of all believing people, and 
our idea of a family. Not that any good will 
follow of our pushing figure into fact, or trying to 
carry out the resemblance into too minute details. 
Let us remember that all there is to be traced 



Heaven and Earth. 



between the earthly and the heavenly is an analogy ; 
and an analogy, as we all know, is a resemblance 
in some respects between things which markedly 
differ in other respects. 

Now the first idea which commonly enters our 
mind when we speak of a family, is, that the mem- 
bers of it have all one father. And you know 
that this is emphatically so with the great family 
of which St. Paul speaks in the text. Each mem- 
ber of that great community, the Christian Church, 
is taught to look up to God in that kind relation : 
He is c Our Father which is in heaven.' There 
are many names by which we may fitly call upon 
God : but it is interesting to think that here is the 
only name by which Christian people are actually 
commanded to call upon God. And even we can 
see how fitting is the name. I pass over such 
thoughts as that God is the Father of all, because 
He made all, and preserves all : there is a far 
closer relation than that common one. All Chris- 
tians are God's children bv adoption. They are 
born of the Spirit : made new creatures in Christ : 
received even now into the number of the sons of 
God. c Behold, what manner of love the Father 
hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called 
the sons of God ! ' c As many as received Him, 
to them gave He power to become the sons of 
God.' c And if children, then heirs : heirs of 
God, and joint-heirs with Christ.' These are 



286 The Family in 



inspired words. The true believer has got out 
of that sad state in which we all are by nature, in 
which we dread God, shrink from God, think of 
Him as the angry Judge, and wish just to keep 
out of His sight : he has learned to be sure 
that God loves him, wishes him well, punishes 
sorely against His will. He may be driven to that 
at the last : but He wants to be glorified in the 
sinner's complete salvation. Oh brethren, that 
ours may be that spirit of adoption, whereby we 
cry Abba, Father ! For c if ye, being evil, know 
how to give good gifts unto your children, how 
much more shall your Father in heaven give good 
things to them that ask Him ! ' 

Then, we know a family by the common name 
all its members bear. And who needs to be told 
that Name, above every name, into which we are 
baptized, which we bear, on which we call, which 
we fear and glorify ? c In His name shall the 
Gentiles trust : ' c That ye might have life through 
His name : ' we gather together in this holy place 
in His name : all we ask of God, we ask in His 
name : the Comforter comes to us in His name : 
for His name's sake we have laboured : and we trust, 
through faith in His name, to hold fast, and not deny 
His name to the end. Yes, His name binds all 
believers together. Over and above our family 
names, and our national name, and our sectional 
name, Churchman or Dissenter, Presbyterian or 



Heaven and Earth. 287 



Episcopalian, we glory in the higher, wider, nobler, 
heart-warming and heart-cheering name of Chris- 
tian ! That is the name which, besides and beyond 
and above all others, is borne by every member of 
the Church of Christ. 

Next, it is an interesting thought, that among 
all true Christians there is a strong family resem- 
blance. You know that between the members of 
an earthly family, amid all the great differences of 
look and bearing we see, we can still make out 
a certain likeness : an indescribable something in 
feature and gesture, which makes a felt resemblance 
amid real great diversity. And just in that way, 
amid all the differences of age, temperament, 
character, advancedness in the divine life, there 
are yet strong and marked features of family re- 
semblance among all Christians who are Christians 
indeed. The grand feature of renunciation of self, 
and of simple trust in Christ for salvation, is there 
in all. All look for strength and holiness and 
comfort to the same Blessed and Holy Spirit. All 
can testify to the needfulness and power of prayer. 
All have known, more or less, what it is to be 
convinced of sin : what it is to repent : what it is 
to commit the soul to cur Saviour : what it is to 
strive after holiness, and to resist the law in the 
members by the law of the mind. There is a 
great deal of common ground between true be- 
lievers, even the first time they meet, if they speak 



288 



The Family tn 



out their heart : and even though they belong to 
the most different churches and schools of religious 
thought, if they can but get over their prejudices. 
Unhappily, that is not an easy thing : and a great 
deal of the strife and division that are now in the 
Church of Christ just comes of this : that good 
people seek the shibboleths that are to mark a 
brother, not in those great features as to which all 
true Christians must agree, but in those accidental 
characteristics as to which God made them to differ. 
There have been good folk, who fancied that the 
family resemblance lay in the use of some un- 
natural and ugly tones of voice in speaking of holy 
things, or in praying : or perhaps in the use of odd 
and uncouth phrases, of a somewhat scriptural 
sound, though very likely not to be found in Holy 
Scripture : or, perhaps, in the holding some absurd 
little crotchet as to matters of ecclesiastical law or 
order : refusing to welcome a man as a brother- 
Christian, unless he held this or that theory about 
non-intrusion, or spiritual independence, or apos- 
tolic succession, or the method of ordination 01 
ministers, or the right way of baptizing children, 
whether by sprinkling or immersion, — going upon 
such things as these. Now, I do not say that 
every mark of the believer, or every note of the 
Church, which is not vital, is therefore of no con- 
sequence at all. There are Church questions 
which I esteem as of unspeakable importance, 



Heaven and Earth. 2,8 g 



though I should never dream of unchurching the 
man that differed from me on them : but I do say 
that when earnest Christian people stand together 
in the midst of danger, or in the immediate pros- 
pect of death, all these things sink out of sight ; 
and are felt to be unutterably pitiful as marks of 
the true believer. Not such are the family features ! 
We come closer to the soul for these ! Pardoned 
through Christ : sanctified by the Holy Spirit : 
living by prayer : loving the brethren : looking for 
heaven : these are the essential features that mark 
the member of c the whole family in heaven and 
earth ! 3 

A farther note of this great family is this : that all 
its members have one home. Of course, looking 
even to that little portion of the Church of Christ 
which is still on earth, — for by far its larger part 
is in heaven, — the harvest of many generations is 
gathered there ^ — we see that this one home of all 
believers is not as yet inhabited by all the family 
together. But still, every member of the family 
looks to the same home at last ; and though we may 
live long elsewhere, and grow attached to other 
places and form ties to them, yet, till we enter that 
home never to leave it, we are no more than stran- 
gers and pilgrims everywhere. This is not our rest : 
our rest is beyond the grave. By the make of our 
being, we never shall be right, — never quite as we 
would be, — till we enter our Redeemer's beatific 

u 



zgo The Family In 



presence ; till we enter for ever that peaceful and 
happy place, of which it has pleased God we should 
know so little, yet whose name is so familiar on our 
lips,— Heaven. So long as the family is part on 
earth and part in heaven, it is a divided family : it is 
just as we see many families, most families, in this 
world ; some at home, and some away from home. 
Those who are already in heaven, are at home : 
those who are still on earth, are away from home ; 
but in due time going there. Believers on earth are 
away from home ; like the child who is placed 
among strangers in his early days, for the benefits of 
discipline and education, — as many of us have been 
in our childhood ; yet whose heart yearns ever 
towards his own dear home, and warms at the 
thought of it : for what is this world but the place 
where the Christian must go through that school- 
work, sometimes hard enough, which is his educa- 
tion for glory ? They are away from home : like 
the stranger and pilgrim, journeying on through a 
foreign country, amid people who know little of the 
language he speaks, and nothing of the friends he is 
thinking of : for you know how this world is the 
wilderness through which the Christian is advancing 
towards the better and holier Canaan ; and this life 
his never-ceasing pilgrimage towards the home where 
he shall rest at last. And it is not an unfamiliar 
thing to say that a human being's home may be 
where he is not \ and where it may be long before 



Heaven and Earth. 2gi 



he be. There are thousands in India, who have 
lived there for many a day and year, who, when they 
speak of home, always mean this country, thousands 
of miles away. There is many a settler in the 
Western world, who amid its broad meads and 
hoary woods yet feels himself an exile ; and turns 
at the name of home to some misty island of the 
Hebrides, lashed by the everlasting surge of the 
Atlantic. It is so with all the Christian family. 
We have one home, though now away from it at 
school : one home, though parted from it by many 
a weary foot : one home, though we have never seen 
it. For by our appearance here in God's house 
to-day : by our daily prayers and reading of God's 
Word : by our faith and hope : by our endeavours 
to grow in grace : we 'declare plainly that we seek 
a country. ' And we live, as our fathers c died, in 
faith, not having received the promises : but having 
seen them afar off, and been persuaded of them, 
and embraced them, and confessed that we are 
strangers and pilgrims on the earth.' Yes, brethren, 
earth is our dwelling-place ; but heaven is our home ! 

So we have seen that there are such points of 
resemblance between the Church of Christ and a 
family, as we understand that word, as enable us 
to understand the imagery of the text. We are 
one family in our Lord, though some of us do 
this day only remember our Lord, and some do this 
day see His face. We who are here have some 



2^2 



The Family in 



portion yet, it may be long or it may be brief, of our 
journey before us : they have entered into rest. And 
surely, my friends, it is a cheering and pleasant 
belief, that v/e sinful beings upon earth, if we have 
believed in Christ, stand in near and kind relation- 
ship ro the best and noblest of the race : and stand, 
at this genial season that used to gather families who 
will not gather in this world any more, in relation- 
ship as near and kind as ever, to those of our earthly 
kindred who in Jesus fell asleep and died. Let us 
try to live worthy of this : as we think how from 
their distant shore they watch us, in our daily duties, 
cares, sorrows, joys, with a love that death did not 
quench : — as we think how kindly footsteps may 
sometimes be near us, though more noiseless than 
falls the snowflake ; and how little faces, missed 
from our fireside, will some day wait for us at the 
gate of the Golden City. And indeed, it is but a 
mere fraction of Christ's family, in numbers or in 
worth, that is here on this side of time. The whole 
family is in heaven and earth ; but by far its greater 
part is in heaven : the redeemed and sanctified of 
many generations are there. You remember how 
the most thoughtful among the heathen used to 
speak of a good man's death, in a phrase that was a 
dim, blind foreshadowing of the sublime truth we 
know. c He has gone,' they said, 'to the majority : 
gone to where there are more ! ' * The Church of 

* Abut ad f lures. 



Heaven and Earth. 2g$ 

Christ would be but a small and poor thing to what 
it is, if there were no more of the family than are 
here on earth. For it should almost seem as if, in 
God's mysterious providence, the best and purest 
specimens of our kind were systematically cut down 
and taken away from this world, while many weeds 
and tares are left. I am not now speaking of mighty 
intellect and genius, mown down by death : not 
thinking of mute Miltons, taken away : but rather 
of the artless openness, and the simple piety, the 
gentle grace, the budding promise of all that is good 
and true, that have been gathered, generation after 
generation, in heaven. You must look upon grave- 
stones to find the names of those who promised to 
be the best and noblest specimens of the race : they 
died in early youth, perhaps in early childhood. 
Their pleasant faces, their singular words and ways, 
remain, not often talked of, in the memories of sub- 
dued parents, or of brothers and sisters now grown 
old, but never forgetting how that one of the family 
that was as the flower of the flock was the first to 
fade. You go to many a house where they tell you, 
and tell you truly, that beautiful, amiable, bright, as 
the living may be, their grace and goodness and 
genius are nothing, when you compare them with the 
dead. It has been a proverbial saying, you know, 
even from heathen ages, that those wjhom the gods 
love die young. So well may we look with interest. 
Christian friends, towards the Better Country : for 



294 Tfce Family hi 

the best of the family, the best of the Church, is 
there ! 

There are great differences, to-day, between us, 
who (we humbly trust through grace) are num- 
bered with the family on earth, and those of it 
who are in heaven. c The souls of believers are 
at their death made perfect in holiness, and do im- 
mediately pass into glory.' They dropped the last 
trace of earthly sinfulness and imperfection, cross- 
ing the dark river : and they have reached to 
heights of bliss and purity of which we can know 
but little here. And then they are safe. Sin and 
temptation can trouble them no more. As for us 
here, however decided our choice of the Saviour 
for our portion, however strong our good hope 
through grace, however sensibly we may have 
experienced the help and comfort of the Holy 
Spirit, — we must ever seek God's continued grace, 
and stand in awe. No measure of assurance that 
Christian people can reach in this world will ever 
take away the need for constant watchfulness : 
after all, the wise believer will never be as safe as 
he would wish, till he is in heaven. You remem- 
ber the beautiful and sound sentiment of a Christian 
writer, telling us about his three little children : 
telling what a trial it was when it pleased God to 
take away the youngest of them : yet adding, that 
when he thought how holy, happy, and safe, was 
the little child that died, he would rather lose the 



Heaven and Earth. 



295 



other two, than see him given back to life. c It may 
be that the Tempter's wiles their souls from bliss 
may sever : But if our own poor faith fail not, he 
must be ours for ever ! ' Yes ; the little member of 
the family that was in heaven, was safe ! No tempta- 
tion, no sin, no sorrow could reach him more. We, 
on earth, must battle with all these yet. Let us pray, 
daily and hourly, for the grace and guidance of that 
kind Holy Spirit, who can bring us safely through all. 

We know, each of us, here on the last Sunday 
of another year, what the work has been that has 
engaged us through the year : w 7 hat the cares have 
been that weighed on us : what the joys that 
cheered. But oh, who in this world can tell what 
those of the great family that are in heaven have 
been mainly thinking of, caring for, and doing, 
during this year that is nearly gone ? How little 
we know what they are like now, that left us for 
heaven ; and how they are employed ! I doubt 
not that the mother, whose little one died in early 
childhood, when she herself enters the better Jeru- 
salem, may be perplexed at first when a fair spirit, 
so much happier and more beautiful than her re- 
membrance, comes to welcome her as her child. 
I can imagine the mother looking wonderingly into 
the fair face, and saying, O my little child that left 
me these weary years since, can this be you ! But 
what a glorious change ! May it pass upon all of 



296 



The Family in 



us : being washed in the blood of Christ, and 
sanctified by the Holy Spirit ! For if we be so, 
then all change that can pass upon us will only 
make us happier and better. 

c The whole family in heaven and earth : 9 there 
is no salvation, no peace, beyond its pale. Let us 
each ask himself, before we leave this church for 
the last time in this year, Do I belong to it? Have 
I a good hope through grace that I do belong to it ? 
Is it my daily prayer that I may be more assured 
that I belong to it ? Am I daily praying and 
striving that all who are dear to me may be drawn 
into it, and confirmed in it ? There was a good 
minister, he has passed to his country now, who was 
accustomed to build much on that text you may 
remember, — c Draw me, we will run after Thee ! ' 
— who said that no saved soul went to heaven 
alone : that if but the one in the family were drawn 
to the Saviour by the cords of love, that one's 
prayers, and kindness, and pains, and the contagion 
of his example, would surely, through God's 
grace, draw some of the rest, perhaps all the rest, 
too. Is that your resolution, and your prayer to 
Him, who, if lifted up from the earth, was to draw 
all men to Him : do you say to Him, Take me 
into Thy family, and I shall strive to bring with 
me all mine too : c Draw me, we will run after 
Thee ? ' There is only one place, now, where 



Heaven and Earth. 2,g 7 

... 

the family circle in which most of us grew up, can 
ever be complete again. Not till we put off these 
frames of flesh, shall we see some of the kindest 
faces we ever knew. Our eyes may look on many 
things in this world ; but not, till we die, on these 
again. O may the Saviour take us, parents and 
children, and adopt us all into His family of re- 
deemed and sanctified souls ! Let not one name 
of us who are here now together, be lacking from 
the Book of Life on the judgment-day ! Other 
things let God grant or deny : but may He, for 
Christ's sake, number us in 4 the whole family in 
heaven and earth ! 9 And then it will be well with 
us. There are but the two places, and no more. 
And if the last Sunday of another year, when it 
shines upon this church, shall find us gone from 
the worse, it will be because we have entered into 
the better ! 



398 

XVII. 

THE SIGHT OF THE SAVIOUR 
SANCTIFYING. 

* But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the 
Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even 
as by the Spirit of the Lord.' — 2 Cor. iii. 18. 

MY Christian Friends, there is much meaning 
in that verse : there is much practical in- 
struction for all who say, and humbly hope through 
grace, that they have indeed opened the door of 
their heart to that kind Saviour who stands there 
and knocks, and who truly desires that each of us 
here present may be saved at last, yea saved now. 
And it is a good sign of us, if we are able practically 
to understand that text ; because it is quite certain 
that not everybody can. It is not in the least what 
you would call a striking text, till you are helped 
by your own experience to read into it ; and then 
you see the depth of it. It sounds like one of 
those passages of Scripture from which good men 
have preached the metaphysics of the gospel,— that 



The Saviour Sanctifying. 299 



is, a mere piece of systematic theology, — instead of 
Christ's blessed gospel itself : and oh, what a differ- 
ence there is between theology and religion ! But 
never was there a more practical text : never a 
verse that ought to come more warmly home to our 
business and bosoms. Would that what St. Paul 
says there, speaking for himself and people like 
him, were true of us all ! Would that it were 
more decidedly true of us all, that perhaps it is cf 
any ! There is something very humbling about all 
that it suggests to us \ but it is good for us to be 
humble, good for us to be clothed with humility : 
for 4 God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to 
the humble : ' and anything is good for us that will 
bring us to-day afresh to our Blessed Saviour's feet, 
as if we never had come before : poor sinful creatures, 
bringing nothing with us but our sin and our sorrow, 
to find anew the kindest welcome which He gives, 
who received sinners once, and receives them still : 
anything is good for us that makes us seek and 
pray more heartily than we ever did in our life, for 
the grace, and light, and help, and strength, of 
the Blessed and Holy Spirit. 

Now, in this text, St. Paul is telling how Chris- 
tian people grow in grace : how they grow holy. 
c We all,' he says, and he means all Christians, — 
4 look out, and see reflected in the gospel the glory 
of our God and Saviour, and then grow like Him 
through seeing Him, — all by the grace of the Holy 



300 



The Sight of the 



Ghost. 5 Oh that these words meant more to us 
all : oh that we felt what a solid fact all this is, 
as we should if we were talking about worldly 
matters ! But it is all real, though our sinful hearts 
and our great adversary keep us from feeling it. 
It is a fact, that to look at Christ with the eye of 
faith, will assuredly make each of us here grow 
like Him, and always grow liker Him. We are 
told that in other places than in this text. St. John 
says, c It doth not yet appear what we shall be ; 
but we know that when He shall appear, we shall 
be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.' 
Now, is that true ? It is a question of fact : it is 
to be brought to the test of fact. Are we, my 
friends, really and actually looking at Christ every 
day ? Are we growing like Him ? Do our neigh- 
bours see that we are ? Is there no mistake about 
it, that just the same features of character are to be 
seen in us, by all who look at us at all, that are to 
be seen in our Saviour ? When we are told the 
sound doctrine on any subject, the way to make it 
profitable, is, to think over it, and ask ourselves, 
Well, is it so with me ? It would do any one no 
good at all, just to remember and to understand 
the answer in the Catechism to the question, c What 
is effectual calling ? ' as if it were all something 
with which we ourselves had nothing to do. No, 
we must go over it ; and ask ourselves, each of us, 
Now, have I been convinced of my sin and miser}'? 



Saviour Sanctifying. 301 



Has my mind been enlightened in the knowledge 
of Christ ? Has my will been renewed ? And 
have I been persuaded and enabled to embrace my 
Saviour as He is offered in the gospei 5 not to this 
man or that other man, but to met And if we are 
to get good from such a statement of sound doc- 
trine as we find here, where no Christian can 
question its truth, we must do just the same. W e 
must think of the text, and say, Am I, beholding 
as in a glass the glory of the Lord, being changed 
into the same image from glory to glory, as by the 
Spirit of the Lord ? Do I know what that means, 
or is it all like an unknown tongue ? Is there any- 
thing in my history and experience that may be 
fairly expressed by such words as these of the great 
Apostle Paul ? 

Let us ask, each for himself, that the Holy 
Spirit may make it profitable for us all to think 
now of this text, and of what it teaches. 

And we shall understand it all the better, if we 
consider how it comes in. In some preceding 
verses, St. Paul has been pointing out how blinded 
the Jews were about God. God's nature and 
attributes were not revealed to them plainly as to 
us : you cannot find in the Law and the Prophets 
the clear and hopeful manifestation of a God who 
so loved the world ? as to send His Son to save it \ 
you cannot find that as we have it in the New 
Testament. But it was not this that kept the 



302 



The Sight of the 



Jews from seeing God in Christ's merciful face. 
They might have seen Christ in the Law and the 
Prophets if they had chosen : it was a blindness of 
heart and mind that was the matter : the light was 
there, but the will to see was wanting ; and so 
when Moses was read, though Moses wrote of 
Christ, the veil was on their heart, said St. Paul, 
and hearing they did not understand, and seeing 
they did not perceive. And then, turning from 
their sad case, St. Paul tells how different it is with 
us. c We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a 
glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the 
same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of 
the Lord.' 

Now, looking at the Apostle's words, the first 
thing they suggest is, that in the Gospel we have a 
far clearer exhibition of God's character than was 
afforded in the Law. 

You know there have been various revelations 
of God to man. God never left Himself without 
a witness : something might always have been 
known of God. There were older hints and half- 
manifestations of the Almighty before the Jewish 
lawgiver was taught his system, or Jewish prophet 
spake. In vaster and brighter characters than ever 
were traced by mortal hand : and in deeper and 
mightier voices than mortal power could make ; 
this great Creation around us had given forth the 
first revelation concerning God. The heavens 



Saviour Sanctifying. 303 



declared His glory, and the firmament showed His 
handywork : the rain from heaven, and fruitful 
seasons, might all have told something of a great 
Creator and unwearied Provider. Well, we know 
that that revelation, — what is commonly called the 
light of nature, — proved utterly insufficient ; and 
indeed the heart sickens when we think what kind 
of idea of God the poor ignorant heathen, yes, and 
the refined and polished heathen too, had reached : 
one, bending to idols of wood and stone ; the other 
reckoning his gods by thousands, or casting off any 
faith in a god at all. And it is when we think of 
the manifold abominations of heathenism, that we 
see what an advance was even the imperfect mani- 
festation of God that was given to the Jews. It 
was a great deal that the Jew could tell that there 
was but one God : infinite in power, perfect in 
justice, unspotted in holiness. Yet, though it 
would be untrue to say that the milder attributes of 
God's character are not displayed by Moses and 
the Prophets, still, the Law spoke chiefly of the 
holiness, the justice, the might and majesty, of 
God. c The Law was given by Moses, but grace 
and truth came by Jesus Christ!' Yes, in the 
gospel, which is, briefly, a system of mercy, we 
find God's love and grace brought far more fully 
into view : c God so loved the world, that He gave 
His only-begotten Son.' c God is love.' c The 
love of Christ passeth knowledge \ ' and Christ is 



3°4 



The Sight of the 



the c image of the invisible God.' And what 
a light upon God's feeling to us His creatures, — 
what a sudden glory, — when our Blessed Saviour, 
God himself, took us by the hand, and told us 
where to look for something like God's feeling, — 
4 If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts 
unto your children, how much more shall your 
Father which is in heaven give good things to 
them that ask Him ! ' Oh how can Christian 
people dwell mainly on the thought of an angry 
God, w r hen Christ says to us, Now, if you want 
to know how God feels towards you, and how 
ready He is to give you everything that is really 
good, here is something to go by. You know 
how much you would do for your children : you 
know how anxious you are to care for them in 
every way. You know how a father will work, 
and how a mother will watch, all for the good of 
their little ones. You know how much of the 
work that is done by men in this world, and how 
much of the care that is felt, is not for themselves 
at all, but for their children : all for them. Well, 
says Christ, you know all that : and now hear me 
and believe me when I tell you that the great 
Father above is just like that^ only a thousand-fold 
better. If even you, sinful and evil, would wear 
your fingers to the bone, would lose your rest, 
would cut off every selfish indulgence, that you 
might see your children's wants supplied, that you 



Saviour Sanctifying. 



might see the little things happy and good, — then 
take this blessed assurance to your heart, that in 
all you feel towards your children, you have a faint 
and far reflection of how the great God above us 
feels towards you. He feels for us just like that : 
cares for us, loves us, wishes us well, works for 
us. And all this, while the Divine holiness and 
justice remain essential as ever : for the wonderful 
excellency of the gospel is that it shows all the 
perfections of the Godhead harmonized and recon- 
ciled. Just, yet the justifier of sinners : loving 
and pitying the sinner, while He hates the sin : 
desiring to be glorified in the sinner's complete 
salvation : pleading with His rebellious children, 
c Fury is not in me : who would set the briars and 
thorns against me in battle ? I would go through 
them, I would burn them together. But let him 
take hold of my strength, that he may make peace 
with me, and he shall make peace with me ! ' 

Such is the view of the glory of God, which we, 
with unveiled face, behold as in a glass, in the 
gospel. A God merciful and gracious, forgiving 
iniquity transgression and sin, yet by no means 
clearing the guilty : so loving a rebellious world, as 
to send His Son to die to save it : calling on all 
men to repent, and believe, and be saved : not 
willing that any should perish, but that all should 
come to repentance. And, again looking at our 
text, the second thing suggested by it, is that 



3o6 



The Sight of the 



wonderful efficacy St. Paul ascribes to the saving 
and right view of God in Christ. Looking at the 
glory of God in the face of Christ, the believer is 
changed into the same image. The believer grows 
like his Saviour, seeing Him as He is. 

Now there is nothing mystical in this : we can in 
some measure understand how it comes to be. You 
know that there is such a thing as a moral atmo-* 
sphere : and by breathing it, and living in it, we grow 
conformed to it. You take your tone a good deal 
from the people with whom you associate ; from the 
books you read ; from the thoughts you allow to be 
much present to your minds. Without any inten- 
tional imitation, you grow like the people you love 
and value much : you catch their ways of thinking : 
you get into their tastes and likings : you adopt 
their habits. And of course, if we knew that any 
dear friend was a perfect example, so that we never 
could go wrong if we just imitated him, we should 
by degrees approach near the pattern that was not 
merely suggested by feeling, but approved by our 
judgment. Now, you can easily see that if we are 
always looking, as it were, at our blessed Saviour : 
seeing His perfect character : thinking of what He 
said, and how He did : living as in the holy atmo- 
sphere of His presence ; even without any designed 
imitation, we should grow like Him : and still more 
should we grow like Him, if by God's grace we are 



Saviour Sanctifying. 307 



actually trying to do so, — making Him our pattern, 
— seeking to have this mind in us which was and is 
in Him. 

Let us make this plain to our minds : we are not 
called just to take it on trust that to look at Christ 
will make us like Christ, without seeing why. I 
am quite sure that every one of you that has ever 
thought on the matter, must have observed how 
much our character and feeling are affected by the 
society of those among whom we live. Naturalists 
tell us, that there is a little creature called the 
chameleon, which takes the colour of whatever 
object it is placed near; and it should almost seem 
as if human beings, unless they are endowed with 
much more determination and force than most 
human beings have, do somewhat in that manner 
take their tone very much from the people by whom 
they are surrounded. I appeal to your own ex- 
perience, if you have not found 5 that after associ- 
ating a good deal with worldly and frivolous people, 
you felt your own soul drawn down very much 
to their level : you did not feel nearly in such a 
pious and energetic and healthful temper as you 
had done before. And I ask you too, if you have 
not found, that when you were spending your time 
in the society of true and engaging disciples of Jesus, 
your own heart was elevated and purified \ and you 
almost insensibly took your tone from the pious 
company in which you were. I do not believe that 



308 The Sight of the 



any person who is not very hardened indeed, could 
spend even one day or one evening in the company 
of such a winning, devoted, living Christian as we 
may sometimes have known, without feeling himself 
decidedly the better fork; and still more would that 
good effect follow, if you were to live for months 
and years in the constant society of the pure and 
holy : in the society of those whose very presence 
would be a rebuke to everything sinful or even fri- 
volous, and an incitement to whatever in thought or 
conduct is honest and lovely and of good report. 
Now, if so great be the influence of even human 
companions, just think what sanctifying effect should 
be produced on the character of every Christian, by 
having always before him the glory of God in the 
face of Christ ! Could you indulge a wrong thought, 
if you felt that Christ was standing by you, watch- 
ing that thought arise, and saddened to see it arising ? 
Could you do a wrong thing, if you felt that your 
Redeemer, who bled for sin, was standing by you 
and watching you ? Could you say a bitter word, 
or deal a bitter stroke, if you felt that Christ's eye 
was resting on you as you uttered it or dealt it ? 
And could you, with open face beholding Him near, 
could you weary at the work He sets you, or repine 
at the trial He sends you, or listen to the Tempter's 
voice, or turn aside from the heavenward way ? Or 
do you not rather feel, that the sight by faith of our 
Redeemer and great Exemplar, would tend to put 



Saviour Sanctifying. 309 



down the evil that is in us : to deliver us from sin, 
to purify our hearts, to make us meet for glory: 
yea, to c change us into the same image, from glory 
to glory j 9 to sanctify us, always more and more. 

This blessed change, you see, is gradual : it is 
c from glory to glory.' And looking at the words, 
we go back to older ones : c They go from strength 
to strength : every one of them in Zion appeareth 
before God. 5 It is as the leaven, silently and gradually, 
leavens the whole lump, that the continual sight of 
a Saviour affects the entire character. Sanctifica- 
tion is a gradual work : it is going on all through 
life : it is not done, at least ordinarily, by great 
leaps ; — as it is insensibly the character deteriorates 
in bad company ; as it is by imperceptible degrees 
that the strength is diminished in a relaxing climate 
or increased in a bracing one ; so it is by a process 
insensible but sure, that always looking at our Saviour 
makes us grow like Him. It is just the things that 
make the greatest change on us, that work most im- 
perceptibly. What a difference between the frail 
old man on the verge of the grave, and the rosy 
little boy he used to be ! And yet, though advancing 
hours made the difference, who could trace the 
change each hour made ? And the influences which 
affect our character most, are those which sink in : 
not those which come with a sudden shock. One 
look at our Saviour, indeed, may by God's grace 



The Sight of the 



draw us to Him : but the thing that will make us 
like Him, that will sanctify us in soul, body, and 
spirit, is the continual looking at Him, meditating on 
Him, trusting in Him, loving Him, praying to Him, 
leaning on Him, month after month, year after 
year. 

The third thought suggested by the text is this : 
By whose agency this growing like Christ comes of 
beholding Him. All this good and glory come 
through the working of the Holy Ghost : it is all 
done 'by the Spirit of the Lord.' Left by ourselves, 
we might look at Christ for ever, yet never come to 
resemble Him at all. And we might even sincerely 
admire His character as a matter of sentiment, 
without being drawn to imitate it. Many of you 
doubtless know, that if you want to find perhaps the 
most eloquent panegyric that ever was spoken by 
uninspired lips upon the moral loveliness of our 
Saviour's character, you may find it in the writings 
of an avowed infidel, who utterly rejected Him. 
The sight of Christ draws all its efficacy to affect 
the character from the working of the Holy Ghost. 
He is the Sanctifier : the means of grace and holi- 
ness are nothing without Him. Where His presence 
was wanting, men have listened week by week to the 
faithful preaching of the Word : have read the Bible 
till every word of it was familiar : have seen, as far 
as the natural man can see, the glory of God made 



Saviour Sanctifying. 31 j 



manifest in the Saviour : and the natural tear has 
sometimes started, in the thought of Him who is 
fairer than the sons of men, and altogether lovely : 
but in a little time the impression wore away, and left 
the heart less likely to be impressed again. And it will 
be just so with us, unless we pray daily and earnestly 
for the presence in our hearts of the great Sanctifier, 
Enlightener, and Comforter. Unless, indeed, our 
nature be a very insensate one, we cannot fail some- 
times to be impressed by what we read in our Bibles 
of what our Saviour was, and said, and did. But 
then, mere natural conviction and feeling will not 
last ; will not transform ; will be beaten by any 
strong temptation ; will go like the cloud and the 
dew. You may read the Sermon on the Mount ; 
you may read that parting intercessory prayer re- 
corded by St. John : you may look at Jesus, as 
with words of unutterable sympathy, He calls the 
ruler's little girl back to life : you may see the 
glance of love that won St. Peter from his miser- 
able wandering and failure : you may think how 
wise and kind and good was that blessed and 
merciful Redeemer : and then in a little time the im- 
pression may die away ; and you may find yourself 
saying unkind words and thinking uncharitable 
thoughts^: falling even into worse transgressions : 
looking just as little like your Master as though 
with open face you never had seen Him in the 
Gospel at all. No doubt it often seems strange to 



312 



The Sight of the 



other people — and to none should it seem stranger 
than to the Christian himself — to see how different 
many professing Christians are when you meet them 
in their worldly business, or when you differ from 
them in opinion, from what they look like at a com- 
munion table, or in the season of prayer. Much 
impressed, amiable, and meek, when in the act of 
looking at God's glory : natural feeling can explain 
that ; but keen, worldly, ill-tempered, and rude- 
spoken, when they have gone out from God's 
presence, — just when they are specially called to 
show they have been with Jesus, and grown like 
Him in some good degree. And all the difference 
will turn just on the question, Whether we heartily 
seek and pray that the Holy Spirit may make the 
view of the Saviour efficacious, or not : whether He 
have indeed breathed on our hearts, or it be all a 
matter of sentimental emotion, barren of all practical 
result. Oh Christian friends, for a hundred reasons, 
let each of us determine from this hour onward to 
make it our daily prayer, that we may be filled with 
the Holy Spirit ! 

You see, that in dwelling on this subject, the 
sanctifying power of the sight of the glory of 
God, we have insensibly come to speak of Christ, 
and of God's glory in Him. And we have done 
this rightly : for He is the image of the invi- 
sible God, and we see the glory of God in His 



Saviour Sanctifying. 313 



gracious face. When we desire to look at God, 
and behold God with unveiled face, we have just to 
look at our Saviour. Well, we have seen that there 
is a natural influence in the contemplation of what 
is pure and lovely and excellent, to elevate the 
soul. Quite apart from God's grace or the work- 
ing of His Spirit, we feel the tone, the moral atmo- 
sphere, that is about scenes and people ; and this 
moral atmosphere always tends to make us conform- 
able to itself. On a calm summer evening, walk- 
ing in the gathering twilight by the silent sea, and 
looking at the purple hills, amid that pause and hush 
of nature, you know how something of the outward 
peacefulness sinks into our spirit ; and the pulse is 
quieted, and the soul is calmed. And you know, 
any one who reads worthy books, and grows fami- 
liar with the elevating thoughts contained in them, 
will insensibly catch somewhat of their elevation. 
So, a man who habitually associates with cultivated 
and refined people will gain a like refinement, un- 
consciously but surely. There is such a thing as a 
city having a character of bustle and energy and 
stir : there is such a thing as a city having a cha- 
racter of academic quiet and thoughtfulness and 
peace ; and any one living in either will be toned 
with the tone of the place. Now, these cases may 
snow us now, m a mere natural way, we may get 
some measure of good from the contemplation of 
Christ as shown in the Gospel ; and from the 



3*4 



The Sight of the 



admission to our minds of all the pure and holy 
thoughts that come with His remembrance. But 
never forget, that there is more than the natural 
working of our minds needed here. There must 
be a higher influence at work : the supreme work- 
ing of the Holy Ghost must weave in with the 
common operations of mind and heart, giving 
these a power and vitality not their own : giving 
them a transforming energy, and a power of con- 
tinuance, which are not in the feeble traces of 
good feeling and purpose that may rise in the fallen 
soul, unhelped from above. Nothing in us that is 
good, in conduct or character, can be trusted to last, 
except that in us which is through the working of 
the Holy Spirit ! And that gracious One must 
show us the Saviour, before we can behold Him 
efficaciously ; and must make us like Him, before 
we can ever be changed into His image, from glory 
to glory. Without His presence and blessing, you 
may read the story of Christ's words and doings ; 
think how wise and good He was : and then shut 
your Bible, and feel on your heart no effect at all ! 

And is it not sadly so with us all ? I said, begin- 
ning my discourse this afternoon, that the subject of 
it was a humbling one. Yes, it ought truly to 
humble us, when we read of our growing like Christ: 
when we read of growth 'from giorv to glory,' in 
any connection with our poor sinful imperfect lives, 



Saviour Sanctifying. 315 

all failures and repentances. For we are very little 
like our Saviour indeed : we dare not speak of being 
c changed into the same image.' And as for the 
Apostle's triumphant word, surely it is but the hope 
of glory to which we can attain here. Yet let us 
ask, believing, and for Christ's sake, that God would 
give us the great things he has promised : let us ask 
for nothing less than this ; that forasmuch c as we 
all, with open face, do behold as in a glass the glory 
of the Lord,' so we may, in our growing sanctifica- 
tion, be 1 changed into the same image from glory 
to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord ! ' 

Now unto Him that is able to keep us from 
falling, and to present us faultless in the presence of 
His glory with exceeding joy : to the only wise 
God our Saviour ; be glory and majesty, dominion 
and power, both now and ever. Amen, 



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The JENEID of VIRGIL Translated into English Verse. By John 
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POEMS by Jean Ingelow. With nearly 100 Illustrations by Eminent 

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A STORY of DOOM, and other Poems. By Jean Ingelow. Third 

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EUCHARIS ; a Poem. By F. Reginald Statham (Francis Reynolds), 
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WORKS by EDWARD YARDLEY: — 

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Horace's Odes, translated into English Terse. Crown Svo. 6s. 

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ENCYCLOPEDIA of RURAL SPORTS ; a complete Account, Histo- 
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The DEAD SHOT, or Sportsman's Complete Guide ; a Treatise on 

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Revised Edition. Fcp. 8vo. with Plates, 5s. 

The FLY-FISHER'S ENTOMOLOGY. By Alfred Ronalds. With 

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A BOOK on ANGLING- ; a complete Treatise on the Art of Angling 

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27 



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WILCOCKS'S SEA-FISHERMAN; comprising the Chief Methods of 
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INDEX. 



Acton's Modern Cookery 28 

Allen's Four Discourses of Chrysostom . . 22 

Allies on Formation of Christendom «... 21 

Alpine Guide (The) 23 

Amqs's Jurisprudence 5 

Arnold's Manual of English Literature .. 7 

Arnott's Elements of Physics 11 

Authority and Conscience 19 

Autumn Holidays of a Country Parson .... 8 

Ayee's Treasury of Bible Knowledge 21 

Bacon's Essays, by Whatelt 6 

Life and Letters, by Spedding 5 

Works, edited by Spedding 6 

Bain's Logic, Deductive and Inductive .... 10 

Mental and Moral Science 10 

on the Senses and Intellect 10 

Ball's Alpine Guide 23 

Bayldon's Rents and Tillages 19 

Beaten Tracks 23 

Becker's Charicles and Gallus 25 

Benfey's Sanskrit Dictionary 8 

Bernard on British Neutrality 1 

Black's Treatise on Brewing 28 

Blaokley's German-English Dictionary .. 8 

Blaine's Rural Sports 26 

Veterinary Art 27 

Bloxam's Metals 12 

Booth's Saint-Simon 3 

Boultbee on 39 Articles , 19 

Bourne on Screw Propeller 18 

Bourne's Catechism of the Steam Engine . 18 

Handbook of Steam Engine .... 18 

Improvements in the Steam 

Engine 18 

Treatise on the Steam Engine .. 18 

Examples of Modern Engines .. 18 

Bowdler's Family Shakspeare 26 

Braddon's Life in India 22 

Bramley-Moore's Six Sisters of the 

Valleys 24 

Brande's Dictionary of Science, Litera- 
ture, and Art 14 

Bray's Manual of Anthropology 10 

Philosophy of Necessity 10 

on Force 10 

— (Mrs.) Hartland Forest 24 

Bree'S Fallacies of Darwinism 13 

Browne's Exposition of the 39 Articles. .. . 20 

Brunel's Life of Brunel 4 

Buckle's History of Civilization 4 

Bull's Hints to Mothers 28 

Maternal Management of Children 28 

Bunsen'S God in History 3 

Prayers 20 

Burke's Vicissitudes of Families 5 

Burton's Christian Church..... 4 

Cabinet Lawyer 28 



j Campbell's Norway 

Cates's Biographical Dictionary'!.'.'.'....'.] 

— and Woodward's Encyclopaedia 

| Cats' and Farlie's Moral Emblems 

Changed Aspects of Unchanged Truths ..'., 

Chesney's Indian Polity \\\ 

Waterloo Campaign \\\\ 



Chorale Book for England! 

Christ the Consoler ...... Y.Y., 

Clough's Lives from Plutarch ....!!.!!..! 

Colenso (Bishop) on Pentateuch 

Collingwood's Vision of Creation . . . .".' '.' 

Collins 's Perspective 

Commonplace Philosopher, by A. K. H. B 
Conington's Translation of the ^Eneid..., 
Miscellaneous Writings 



CONTANSEAU'sFrench-EnglishDictionaries 
Conybeare andHowsoN's St. Paul .. 

Cotton's (Bishop) Life *.*" 

Cooper's Surgical Dictionary.' ....!!!!!!!'!" 
Copland's Dictionary of Practical Medicine 

Counsel and Comfort from a City Pulpit 

Cox's Aryan Mythology \\\ 

Manual of Mythology \ 

Tale of the Great Persian War ....!! 

Tales of Ancient Greece 

and Jones's Popular Romances".'.'.'! 

Creasy on British Constitutions 

Cresy's Encyclopaedia of Civil Engineering 

Critical Essays of a Country Parson 

Crookes on Beet-Root Sugar ."!!.! 

's Chemical Analysis "!! 

Culley's Handbook of Telegraphy ".! 

Cusack's History of Ireland \ 



16 
IV 

2 
21 
25 
17 

8 
26 

8 

8 
20 

5 
15 
16 

9 

3 
25 

2 
25 
24 



D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation 

in the time of Calvin „ 2 

Davidson's Introduction to New Testament 22 

Dead Shot (The), by Marksitan 26 

De la Riye's Treatise on Electricity 12 

Denison's Vice-Regal Life 1 

Disraeli's Lord George Bentinck 4 

Novels and Tales 24 

Dobell's Medical Reports 15 

Dobson on the Ox & 

Dove on Storms n 

Doyle's Fairyland jg 

Drew's Reasons of Faith 19 

Dyer's City of Rome $ 

Eastlake's Hints on Household Taste 17 

-Gothic Revival 17 



Eden's Queensland u 

Elements of Botany „ 22 

Ellicott on the Revision of the English 

New Testament 20 

Commentary on Ephesians .... 20 

— — — — Commentary on Galatians .... 20 



t 



30 



NEW WORKS published by LONGMANS Ajtd CO. 



Ellicott's Commentary on Pastoral Epist. 20 
Philippians, &c. 20 



__, Thessalonians 20 

Lectures on the Life of Christ. . 20 

Evans's Ancient Stone Implements 13 

Ewald's History of Israel 21 

FAIRBAIRN on Iron Shipbuilding 18 

'S Applications of Iron 18 

Information for Engineers .. 1? 

Mills and Mill work 18 

Faraday's Life and Letters 4 

FARRAR'S Families of Speech 9 

, Chapters on Language 7 

Fennell's Book of the Roach 27 

Fitzwygram on Horses and Stables 27 

Fowler's Collieries and Colliers 28 

Francis's Fishing Book 26 

Freshfield's Travels in the Caucasus. . . . 23 

Froude's History of England 1 

—Short Studies on Great Subjects 9 

Gamgee on Horse- Shoeing 27 

Gas ot's Elementary Physics 12 

Natural Philosophy 12 

Gilbert's Cadore, or Titian's Country .... 23 

Gilbert and Churchill's Dolomites .... 23 

Girdlestone'S Bible Synonymes 19 

GLEDSTONE'S LifeofWHTTEFIELD 5 

Goddard'S Wonderful Stories 25 

Goldsmith's Poems, Hlustrated 26 

Goodeye'S Mechanism 12 

Graham's Autobiography of Milton .... 4 

Yiew of Literature and Art .... 3 

Grant's Home Politics 3 

Ethics of Aristotle 6 

Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson 8 

Gray's Anatomy 16 

Greenhow on Bronchitis 15 

Griffin's Algebra and Trigonometry .... 12 

Griffith's Fundamentals 20 

Grove on Correlation of Physical Forces . . 13 

Gurney's Chapters of French History .... 2 

G wilt's Encyclopaedia of Architecture .... 17 

Hare on Election of Representatives 7 

Hartwtg'S Harmonies of Nature 13 

Polar World 14 

„ Sea and its Living Wonders . . 13 

Subterranean World 14 

Hatherton's Memoir and Correspondence 2 

Herschel's Outlines of Astronomy 10 

Hewitt on Diseases of Women 15 

Hodgson's Theory of Practice 10 

Time and Space 10 

Holland's Recollections 4 

Holmes's System of Surgery 15 

Surgical Diseases of Infancy .... 15 

Horne's Introduction to the Scriptures. . . . 21 

How we Spent the Summer 23 

Howitt's Australian Discovery 23 

■ Rural Life of England 24 

Visits to Remarkable Places .... 24 



i Hubner's Memoir of Sixtus V 2 

. Hughes's (W.) Manual of Geography .... 11 

Hume's Essays lo 

Treatise on Human Nature 10 

Ihne's Roman History 2 

Ingelow's Poems 26 

Story of Doom 28 

James's Christian Counsels 19 

Jameson's Saints and Martyrs 17 

Legends of the Madonna 17 

Monastic Orders 1" 

Jameson and Eastlake's Saviour 17 

Jardine's Christian Sacerdotalism 19 

Johnston's Geographical Dictionary 11 

Jones's Royal Institution 4 

Kalisch's Commentary on the Bible 7 

Hebrew Grammar 7 

Keith on Fulfilment of Prophecy 20 

Destiny of the World 20 

Kerl's Metallurgy 18 

Kirby and Spence's Entomology 14 

Lang's Ballads and Lyrics " 25 

Lanman's Japanese in America 22 

Latham's English Dictionary 7 

Laughton'S Nautical Surveying 11 

Lawlor's Pilgrimages in the Pyrenees 24 

Lecky'S History of European Morals 3 

Rationalism 3 

Leaders of Public Opinion 5 

Leisure Hours in Town , by A. K. H, B 8 

i Lessons of Middle Age, by A. K. H.B 9 

Lewes' History of Philosophy S 

! Liddell and Scott's Two Lexicons 8 

I Life of Man Symbolised 17 

Lindley and Moore's Treasury of Botany 14 

Longman's Edward the Third 2 

Lectures on the History of Eng- 
land S 

Chess Openings 28 

LOUDON'S Agriculture 19 

Gardening 19 

Plants 14 

Lubbock on Origin of Civilisation 13 

L3*ra Germanica 16,17,22 

Lytton's Odes of Horace 26 

Macaulay's (Lord) Essays 3 

History of England .. 1 

Lay3 of Ancient Rome 25 

MiscellaneousWritings 9 

Speeches 7 

Complete Works 1 

MacLeod's Elements of Political Economy 7 
' Dictionary of Political Eco- 
nomy 7 

Theory and Practice of Ban king 27 



NEW "WORKS published by LOXGMAXS and CO. 



McCitlloch'S Dictionary of Commerce , 

SIaguiee's Life of Father Mathew 

. Pope Pius IX.. 



Mankind, their Origin and Destiny 

Mawtxg's England and Christendom .... 

Marcet's Natural Philosophy 

Marshall's Physiology 

Marshiiax's Life of Haveloek 

. History of India 



Marttxeau'S Christian Life 
Massixgberd's History of the Reformation 

Mathews on Colonial Question 

MAUXDER'S Biographical Treasury , 

Geographical Treasury 

Historical Treasury 

Scientific and Literary Trea- 
sury 

Treasury of Knowledge 

- Treasury of Natural History 



Maxwell's Theory of Heat, 
May's Constitutional History of England. . 

Melville's Novels and Tales 

Mexdelssohx's Letters 

Mebiyale'S Fall of the Roman Republic. . 

Romans under the Empire 

Merrifield's Arithmetic & Mensuration . 



. Magnetism 

. and Eyer's Navigation. 



Metetard's Group of Englishmen 

Miles on Horse's Foot and Horseshoeing . . 

Horses' Teeth and Stables 

Mill (J.) on the Mind 

Mill (J. S.) on Liberty 

on Representative Government 

on Utilitarianism 

Mill's (J. S.) Dissertations and Discussions 

Political Economy 

System of Logic 

Hamilton's Philosophy 

Subjection of Women. . 



Miller's Elements of Chemistry . 

Hymn- Writers 

Inorganic Chemistry 

Songs of the Sierras 

Mitchell's Manual of Architecture 
- Manual of Assaying . . . . 



Moxsell's Beatitudes 

His Presence not his Memory 

* Spiritual Songs' 

Moore's Irish Melodies 

Lalla Rookh 

. Poetical Works . 



BIorell'S Elements of Psychology 
-Mental Philosophy. 



14 | 
22 

12 i 

25 

17 
19 

22 I 



Muller's (Max) Chips from a German 

Workshop 

- Lectures on Language 

(K. 0.) Literature of Ancient 

Greece 



Murchison on Liver Complaints 

Mitre's Language and Literature of Greece 

Nash's Compendium of the Prayer Book.. 
New Testament, Illustrated Edition 



NEWMAN'S History of his Religious Opinions 5 

Nightingale's Notes on Hospitals 28 

Lying-La Insti- 
tutions 28 

NiLSSOx's Scandinavia 13 

Northcott's Lathes and Turning 17 

Obltxg's Course of Practical Chemistry.. 14 

Outlines of Chemistry 14 

Oytex's Lectures on the Invertebrata 13 

. Comparative Anatomy and Physio- 
logy of Vertebrate Animals .... 13 

P acre's Guide to the Pyrenees 23 

Paget's Lectures on Surgical Pathology .. 15 

Pereira's Elements of Materia Medica .. 16 

Perrixg's Churches and Creeds 20 

Peyttxer's Comprehensive Specifier 28 

Pictures in Tyrol 23 

Piesse's Art of Perfumery 19 

Player-Frottd's California 22 

Prexdeegast's Mastery of Languages .... 6 

Prescott's Scripture Difficulties 21 

Present-Day Thoughts, by A. K. H.B 9 

Proctor's Astronomical Essays 10 

New Star Atlas n 

Orbs Around Us n 

Plurality of Y\~orlds n 

Saturn and its System ........ 11 

The Sun 10 

Scientific Essays 12 

Public Schools Atlas (The) u 

Rae's Westward by Rail 23 

Raxkex on Strains in Trusses 18 

Recreations of a Country Parson, bv 

A.K.H.B 8 

Reeve's Royal and Republican France . . 2 

Reilly's Map of Mont Blanc 23 

Rivers' Rose Amateur's Guide 14 

Rogers's Eclipse of Faith 9 

Defence of ditto 9 

Roget'S English Words and Phrases 7 

Roxald's Fly-Fisher's Entomology 26 

Rose's Ignatius Loyola 2 

Rothschild's Israelites 21 

Russell's Pau and the Pyrenees 22 

SAXDARS'S Justinian's Institutes 6 

Saytle on the Truth of the Bible 19 

Schellex's Spectrum Analysis 11 

Scott's Lectures on the Fine Arts 16 

• Albert Durer 16 

Seaside Musings, by A. K. H. B 8 

Seeboeqi's Oxford Reformers of 1498 £ 

Seyvell's After Life 94 

Amy Herbert 24 

Cleve Hall 24 

Earl's Daughter 24 

Examination for Confirmation .. 21 



NEW WORKS published by LONGMANS ajtd CO. 



Sewell's Experience of Liffe ~ 

Gertrude 

Giant 

Glimpse of the World 

History of the Early Church 



. Ivors. 
. Journal of a Home Life. , 

. Katharine Ashton 

. Laneton Parsonage , 

. Margaret Percival 



Passing Thoughts on Religion .. 

Preparations for Communion .... 

Principles of Education 

Readings for Confirmation 

Readings for Lent 

Tales and Stories 

Thoughts for the Age 

Ursula 

. Thoughts foiHhe Holy Week.... 



Short's Church History. 
Smith's (J.) Paul's Voyage and Shipwreck 

(Sydney) Miscellaneous Works.. 

Wit and Wisdom 

. Life and Letters 



25 
24 
4 
84 
24 
24 | 
24 
24 
21 
21 
21 
21 
21 
31 
21 
24 
21 
4 
20 | 
9 
9 



. (Dr. R. A.) Air and Rain . 



Southey'S Doctor 

Poetical Works 

STANLEY'S History of British Birds ... 

Statu aii's Eucharia 

Stephen's Ecclesiastical Biography . 

Playground of Europe 

Stirling's Secret of Hegel 

Sir William Hamilton . 

Protoplasm 

Stonehenge on the Dog 

. on the Greyhound. . 



Strickland's Queens of England 5 

Sunday Afternoons at the Parish Church of 

a Scottish University City, by A. K.H.B.. 9 

Taylor's History cf India 3 

, (Jeremy) Works, edited by Eden 22 

Text-Books of Science 12 

Thirlvv all's History of Greece 2 

THOMSON'S Laws of Thought 6 

New World of Being 10 

THrDiCRTTi's Chemical Physiology 15 

Todd (AO on Parliamentary Government 1 
Todd and BOWMAN'S Anatomy and Phy- 
siology of Man 16 

Trench's Ierne, a Tale 24 

Trench's Realities of Irish Life 3 

Trollope's Barchester Towers 24 

Warden 24 

Twiss's Law of Nations 28 

Tyndall on Diamagnetism 12 

Electricity 12 

Heat 12 

Sound • 12 

's Faraday as a Discoverer 4 

. Fragments of Science . < 12 



Tyndall 's Hours of Exercise in the Alps.. 23 

Lectures on Light H 

^Molecular Physics u 

Uebkrweg's System of Logic 9 

Urb's Arts, Manufactures, and Mines 18 

Van Der Hceyen's Handbook of Zoology 13 

Veeeeer's Sunny South 22 

Vogan's Doctrine of the Eucharist 19 

Walcott's Traditions of Cathedrals ...... 

Watson's Geometry i2 

Principles & Practice of Physic . 15 

Watts 'S Dictionary of Chemistry 14 

Webb's Objects for Common Telescopes .. 11 
Webster and Wilkinson's Greek Testa- 
ment 24 

Wellington's Life, by Gleig 5 

West on Children's Diseases 15 

Nursing Sick Children 29 

'S Lumleian Lectures 14 

Whately's English Synonymes 6 

Logic 6 

Rhetoric 6 

Weately on a Future State 21 

Truth of Christianity 22 

White's Latin-English Dictionaries 

Wilcoce's Sea Fisherman 27 

Williams's Aristotle's Ethics 6 

Williams on Climate of South of France 15 

Consumption 15 

Willich's Popular Tables 2S 

Willis's Principles of Mechanism 17 

WraSLOW on Light 12 

Wood's Bible Animals 13 

Homes without Hands 13 

Insects at Home 13 

Strange Dwellings 13 

(T.) Chemical Notes * 15 

Wordsvtortk'3 Christian Ministry 19 

Yardley's Poetical Works 26 

Yarn dale S4 

Yonge's English-Greek Lexicons 8 

Horace 26 

History of England 1 

— Three Centuries of English Lite- 
rature T 

. Modern History 3 

Yoeatt on the Dog 27 

on the Horse 27 

Zeller's Socrates 6 

Sioics, Epicureans, and Sceptics.. 6 

Zigzagging amongst Dolomites 93 



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